How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

How to Play Any Game with a Kid (Flowchart)

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How to play any game with a young kid funny flowchart

You sit there sweating bullets. You’re not worried you’ll lose, maybe there’s a hint of worry you’ll accidentally win. You’re just trying to keep up, playing a game with this young ball of spin-cycle lightning we commonly refer to as a kid.

Whether it’s your kid or not is beside the point. It’s a KID! You’re doing your best to figure out what game you’re even playing at a certain point. There’s that look, though. Those pursed lips. Those crinkled brows. A look of concentration punctuated with a tongue jabbed thoughtfully into a cheek. All these things say you’re doomed. You have to lose!

You can’t be the one to teach this little munchkin that Chutes and Ladders ends in broken dreams; that Hungry Hungry Hippos will devour their hopes of ever being a winner! Okay. Maybe it’s not that dramatic. But then again, gosh it just really feels that dramatic.

Oh, the look on their face when they win! When they scream “Bingo!” or “I sank your battleship!” or “Check mate!” and you lose? You win. So hard.

Sure, they can learn to lose another day. Today, they win like KINGS!

Follow us on Facebook. We won’t invite you to play ANY games on Facebook. EVER! That’s gotta count for something!

Instructional Diagrams
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27 Comments

27 Responses to “How to Play Any Game with a Kid (Flowchart)”

  1. Tony says:

    You forgot the loop where the rules keep changing turning the game into something resembling toddler tax code.

  2. Brad Jenkins says:

    Or the part where you have to change the rules due to missing pieces. Hungry Hungry Hippos is more difficult to lose when there’s just one ball left and the hippo you’ve been given is broken, with its mouth stuck open.

  3. Auntie J says:

    My kids are notorious for making up games as we go along.

    I can lose with the best of ‘em.

  4. Can’t do this. I let my son win all the time at Candyland and now since I always let him he’s turned into a nightmare everytime I even come close yo beating him. Be careful with this. It’s a slippery slope as they get older and expect to win.

  5. Jim T says:

    I do think there is an age where you have to stop “letting” them win. I have cared for some kids whose parents ‘always’ let them win, and/or change the rules to win constantly. Ultimately they can became horrible losers and poor winners. It isn’t about winning, but it is about showing them how to be both good winners and losers. Obviously we are not talking toddlers here, nor decimating them at a game they don’t have a change to win. At some point you have to teach them both sides, or they won’t play well with you or their peers.

    • Andy says:

      Of course. This post was just about that moment when you let your kid win so they can win. This isn’t an “everyone is a winner even when they’re terrible” sentiment.

  6. Kari says:

    Letting them win sometimes is great, but you also have to teach them how to lose as well. Yes there will be tears and tantrums but they need to learn that they wont be able to win EVERYTHING. Teach them how to lose like a champ and not be a sore loser :)

  7. Elizabeth says:

    We aren’t as nice as you, we also let our boys (ages 3 1/2, 2 1/2, and 6 months) win on occasion but we teach them to be excited for their competitors when they win. We are a family of sore losers, I’m one of the worst, which may be why I don’t let them win, but I hope my motives are better than that. After any game everyone gets a “good game” high five or hand shake and then we winner asks everyone to join in a victory dance. Winning isn’t everything, right????

    • Andy says:

      True. Grind them into the I pound the crap out of my kids when I play. This was just in memory of helping out my tiny little ones until they were old enough for true competition to come into play.

  8. John says:

    My kid has a very simple rule — i build something and he knocks it down and laughs. Once that is done he tells me to build something else. We repeat until I have a flashback to my youth and am forced to stop playing with him.

  9. Willow M. says:

    We used to let our oldest kid win, then he started smack talking. We rigged a game of Uno so he got he butt kicked by both my husband and I… Childish? Sure. But it was obvious we had been letting him win TOO much and he needed to learn you don’t always win. We now play fair, by the rules. Sometimes we’ll set it up so he’ll get an awesome card or land on a place that screws the rest of us, but only if the cosmos are not going his way that day and he’s starting to get down on himself.
    I refuse to play Rock, Paper, Scissors with him. He throws out ridiculous things like toilet that will destroy everything and anything you put out. BUT if you throw it the next round, “We’re not playing with that one anymore.”

  10. Amy says:

    My dad never let me win – be he showed me how to win. Even helping me with my moves. Some games I can win against him hands down (even as a kid) others, like checkers or Othello, I’ll lose every time and still enjoy playing him. I learned that playing the game was fun in itself and winning was a bonus.

  11. Laurie says:

    I am going to keep this for future reference! :) The other day I witnessed my husband play my BIL in battleship on XBOX, that was quite interesting but had NO where near the same effect as hearing the words, You sunk my battleship! You’re a good dad!

  12. WeirdFish says:

    Because my parents didn’t *LET* me win, I learned on my own how to game the systems. Cheating? Sure. If I didn’t get caught (or at least, overtly informed that I was busted), I kept at it.

    The downside of that is that now, if I get bored of a game that lasts too long (mostly PC video games), I start looking for cheat codes just to finish it and not have to look at it anymore.

    There was, unfortunately, no way to cheat surreptitiously at Connect Four. I did learn strategy, though, because my parents explained why I was heading into a trap before it happened and they didn’t let me “start over” or declare that this game “didn’t count.”

    It counted. But they didn’t hold it over my head or taunt me with their victory. I understood why I lost, and slowly recognized the patterns and maneuvers.

    I still don’t have the patience for chess, though. Again, cheat codes just to finish the damn thing. :)

    My son is too young for games right now, but it’s something I’d been tossing around in my head for a while, especially after reading that story of the high school hockey goalie who stormed off the ice after a particularly bratty move against his own team just because he was throwing a season-long temper tantrum that his parents were essentially encouraging.

    http://www.startribune.com/sports/blogs/191010441.html

  13. Ariel Isenberg says:

    I hardly ever purposefully let my daughter win as she starts getting snooty and we want to teach her to lose with grace. A “good game” is required whether she wins or loses. Two instances in which I let her win: An adult has one numerous times in a row and she’s starting to get too frustrated or if we’re pressed for time and need to wrap it up.

  14. John King says:

    Andy, so what age do you think is appropriate that they start loosing here and there?

  15. Matt says:

    This post reminds of a scene from “Bid Daddy” when they ask the kid what the game is called and he says “I WIN!!”. My son is 18 months old and there are times when I just push him over so he realizes that he’s not invincible…I am totally kidding. I am all about “letting them win” but there certainly comes a time when you need to teach them how to lose, which in my opinion is a much better quality to have. Knowing how to dust yourself off and take on the next challenge is how truly successful people make it.

    I love your instructional diagrams…keep’em coming.

    Cheers!

    Matt

  16. Ryan says:

    In addition: Dad cheats, lies, hides money, hides game pieces, and/or changes rules just to get game over with and kid to bed.

  17. Rafie says:

    Hi there,

    I will soon be a father and I think I need to apply this knowledge while playing games with the children. Careful for not being competitive.

    And in my culture, dads will always win. And often made the children feel sad. Reason? They just want to avoid playing games as they are busy.

    And thankful for the idea. Perhaps, we can find a game so that the chance of the children to win is high.

  18. Paul says:

    Reading this post reminds me of a time when I was playing a card game with my niece. I was winning in the first few rounds and she seems annoyed. She insisted on playing till she wins a few games. In the end, I have to let her win. Winning or losing is going to be a part of our lives. When you lose, don’t feel despair. Just learn something from it – know the mistakes you have make or ways to improve yourself.

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