I think a lot about why my sister and I never really got along when we lived under the same roof growing up. I don’t think it was ever my parents intention to pine us against each other, but from day one of a younger sibling entering the picture there can be this need for the elder to pine for love and I think when these emotions aren’t nurtured enough things tend to take on a competitive nature between siblings in the home. That competition can lead to varying levels of dysfunction.
In our own home, when we introduced child number two we really concentrated on family. We included our oldest in every doctor visit, every decision and really took the time to stress that our family was getting bigger and that although there would be some new rules and there would definitely be changes, in the end we are a family and each of us is worth more than a pot of gold as long as we stick together and keep the love flowing.
This doesn’t mean that every day goes off without a hitch. We have had our moments; each of us. What it does mean though is that we really strive for healthy relationships in the house and talking about our feelings and acknowledging each other’s feelings when we are not in agreement. One area that remains fraught with turbulence is when playing games or talking about participating in sports or games at school.
I love to play games and never really worry about winning or losing. Our 5 year old loves to play games, but is far from losing gracefully. Our 2 year old loves to play games, but really her goal with games is very different than someone who can play the game by the given rules. To date, I had actually kind of morphed most games into a cooperative nature by making everyone work toward a common goal. We all love to play memory and matching games and our goal is not to see who can get the most, but to see how fast we can find all the matches; taking the game from competing with each other to working together toward a common goal.
They actually make games that are cooperative games designed to promote working together, community and teamwork over competition. This is the first year that we purchased such a game. We don’t watch much television, but one show that is approved in our house is Richard Scarry’s Busy Town and we found a Busy Town cooperative board game that the whole family loves to play together. We all find objects to solve a mystery and although you play as individual players, the last four steps of the game everyone gets on a ferry together to get to the picnic before Pig Will and Pig Won’t eat all the picnic food.
What does the cooperative game make different about the gaming experience? I can only speak for our house, but when we play the cooperative games there is no crying about never winning, there is no quitting when another player moves ahead and best of all there is a whole lot of high fives and woo-hooing as we all work together to finish the game. We still play our traditional games like Mancala, Checkers and even Old Maid and Uno where turning the game cooperative is difficult if not impossible, but winning and losing these games has gotten much easier as we have all won and lost before together.
Learning to win and lose with grace and good sportsmanship is still involved and still a very valuable lesson that we learn from playing games and sports with one another, but building the confidence to deal well with these situations is exactly what the cooperative games bring to the table. If you love games and sports and want your child to develop healthy approaches to dealing with competition and teamwork, then check out cooperative board games for your family fun night!
Nature Is Random…So Are These