When I first read Aletha Solter’s book, ‘Attachment Play‘, I really resonated deeply with everything she said… Except… when she suggested that you let your child be silly and beat you at games or that you should let your child play the wrong rules if she wants to.
*Cue adult voice*
“Losing is a part of life...” or “They have to get used to losing sometime...” or “If you always let them lie, cheat and win at games, then they’ll grow up to be egocentric, selfish brats.”
But, then, I tried it. I let them lie, cheat and beat me at the little games we played and I was astonished with the results. I took a deeper look into why I was holding onto this idea that I must always play by the rules and found that it was only fear of losing control that was stopping me from letting them act silly.
Board games are just that: they’re games. They’re not real life! Games certainly can teach you about life, but always trying to turn everything into a learning experience can just make everyone so uptight!
Kids get enough disappointments in life…
I thought of how many rules my children had to follow on any given day. I thought of all the times they appeared to be doing something ‘wrong‘ in the eye of an adult. I thought of how many instructions and orders my kids had to follow. All damn day. It’s ALL kids do! Follow rules. Listen to instructions.
Even in my very relaxed homeschool environment, my kids still have to follow family and society rules all the time.
So, if for a few minutes week, I let my kids break the rules, lie, cheat and win, imagine how relieved they are to have a little fun? How nice it is for them to let loose and jokingly do the wrong thing and get away with it. And, believe me, my kids KNOW that I let them win. They KNOW that I’m letting them cheat when they peak at their cards. They KNOW when I’m making a stupid move on purpose to let them win. They KNOW when I let them beat me up the hill (actually, the big kid can legitimately beat me up the hill now). They laugh. I laugh. I let them win!
They appreciate it.
And, I appreciate their attitude later on when they’re more cooperative at bedtime because of the time earlier when I let them do the *wrong* thing. It’s really amazing. The silly little games we play, actually helps my kids to be more adjusted, more cooperative and more pleasant little people. They’re much less likely to act up outside of the house because I sometimes let them ‘get away‘ with doing the wrong thing at home.
Kids don’t need a life lesson at every turn. Sometimes they just need to laugh, be silly, make a loving connection with another human being and take a break from all the rules and formalities.
They’ll get enough life lessons about playing by the rules. My kids know that I can be their safe space. They can do the *wrong* thing and it can be our little secret fun.