I was playing Chinese Checkers with Evelyn the other day. I love Chinese Checkers.
I played a lot when I was a kid, and when no one wanted to play with me,
I played against myself. I think I'm a pretty good player, I can get from one side to the other quickly.
I played two games with Evelyn and won both times.
She got quite upset.
I told her to keep trying, to pay attention to how I play and she may pick up some winning moves.
The third game, she just started imitating my every move, but it only confused her and she lost again.
I showed her some tricks, that it helps to make what I call a "ladder" with her marbles.
The fourth game was close, I helped and moved a few of her marbles to help her understand the ladder trick, and it ended with her one marble behind me when I put my final marble home.
She nearly burst into tears because I won again, but I gave her props for being so close behind me and almost winning. She started feeling better when I told her that we'd play again the next day and she just might beat me then.
I don't believe in letting kids win all the time. It was different when they were toddler-aged, when winning a game encouraged and motivated them to play more and in playing, they learned sportsmanship and whatever else the game taught. As they get older, they need to learn that there are winners and losers. Sure, it'd be nice to win all the time, but it isn't realistic and it doesn't teach them anything, except maybe to get cocky.
Of course I don't like to see my children cry, but I also know that I can't hand them everything they want. Losing gracefully now, at a child's game, may someday teach her how to deal with something in real life, when she is older. We don't lord it over them when we win, we give encouragement and compliments on a game well-played, and offer tips and tricks for next time. Hopefully they get fired up and try harder next time, learn from their mistakes and someday, they'll beat us for real, not because we let them win.