Are we playing by regular rules today, or cheating rules today?

It’s interesting that I came along this website while browsing for something unrelated. It’s from Scholastic’s (this is just about the biggest book publisher for children in the US. Especially within schools. Most book fairs at schools are from Scholastic and at my children’s school at least they donate pamphlet looking activities weekly.) website. It touches on the benefits of board games with young children.

It’s here

This is the part that that I want to touch on:

A Word About Winning
Children take game playing seriously, so it’s important that we help guide them through the contest. When a playing piece falls to a lower level, our kids really feel sad; when it rises up high, they are remarkably proud and happy, even if we adults know that it happened only by chance. Therefore, you need to help balance your child’s pleasure in playing the game with his very limited ability to manage frustration and deal with the idea of losing. 

For 3, 4, and even 5 year olds, winning is critical to a feeling of mastery. So generally, I think it’s okay to “help” them win. By about 6, kids should begin to internalize the rules of fair play, tenuous as they may seem to a child who is losing a game. So I am also fine with a 6 year old “amending” the rules to win if he feels she has to. I encourage you to acknowledge your child’s need for special rules. At the start of the game, you might want to ask, “Are we playing by regular or cheating rules today?”

Are we playing by the regular or cheating rules today? 


Dear world. In this game of life.. when I’m being dealt a really crummy day… Can I adopt the cheating rules please?

Doesn’t this feel like we’re setting kids up for unrealistic expectations? When they get older I feel they won’t be able to adjust that sometimes there aren’t any cheats. And heaven forbid it will be their fault when they have to live by the rules and fail. It will be their parents for not letting things slide this time, or their boss for not understanding why they can’t get to work on time or to the mortgage company who charges an outrageous fee for ONLY being a month behind.

The whole point of games back in the day was most importantly to foster social skills at a young age. Scholastic also notes “Games don’t need to be overtly academic to be educational, however. Just by virtue of playing them, board games can teach important social skills, such as communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns, and enjoying interaction with others. Board games can foster the ability to focus, and lengthen your child’s attention span by encouraging the completion of an exciting, enjoyable game. Even simple board games like Chutes and Ladders offer meta-messages and life skills: Your luck can change in an instant — for the better or for the worse. The message inherent in board games is: Never give up. Just when you feel despondent, you might hit the jackpot and ascend up high, if you stay in the game for just a few more moves. 

Board games have distinct boundaries. Living in a complex society, children need clear limits to feel safe. By circumscribing the playing field — much as tennis courts and football fields will do later — board games can help your child weave her wild and erratic side into a more organized, mature, and socially acceptable personality. After all, staying within the boundaries (not intruding on others’ space, for example) is crucial to leading a successful social and academic life.” 

See how they just contradicted themselves there? Stay in the boundaries.. but don’t worry momma can redirect where those boundaries are if you feel like the boundaries are too constricting…And doesn’t this cement a fact that cheating is ok. It’s acceptable and condoned by the person who is supposed to be enforcing the rules? If we are going to do this, can we call it something like Amended Rules for Fair Play or something?

This world sometimes makes no sense… …


One thought on “Are we playing by regular rules today, or cheating rules today?

  1. I see their first point. Partly. Kids five and under don’t really grasp a lot of concepts; things like sharing and losing are really beyond them. All they know is that it makes them feel bad to lose or to share their dolly or truck when they weren’t done playing with it. For this reason, I’ve “miscounted” my steps in Candy Land a few times. (Not always, but some.)

    I don’t, however, agree with letting them make up their own rules. The people in Chris’ (now 13 years old) life when he was younger let him do that and now he openly cheats at games. Not sure if it’s related, but he also doesn’t have a problem taking things that don’t belong to him and lying — so long as HE gets what HE wants ALL the time. (I’m guess most of it comes from the behavior modeled by his father, but letting him cheat at games definitely couldn’t have HELPED.)

    Yes, they do contradict themselves and somebody in that office needs a reality check. If they wanted to do this in a productive manner, they should at least make the kids design their own board game and make up rules to go with it. (And then stick to them.)

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