Yesterday I played a game of cards with my daughter. She is still young and she doesn’t handle losing very well, so what she does is she takes all trumps and keeps them in a pile, and then we play only with plain cards, and when she feels I might win, she takes a trump and uses it to fend off defeat.
Why do I let her play against the rules? Firstly, because I want her to play the game any way she likes as long as it makes her happy and doesn’t hurt anyone. Secondly, because, counterintuitive as it may seem, I believe that this way she is learning how to handle failure. Losing a game makes her feel embarrassed and by seeing me defeated she understands that it is not the end of the world, that life goes on and that the thrills of playing the game might be as much fun as the thrill of winning it.
The last two rounds we played, she decided to play the first regularly and then the second with all the trumps in her possession. So, for a brief period, she did let go of her desire to win, and simply enjoyed the game. And she even managed to win in the first round, which was an additional perk.
Not all children learn at the same pace. And each child has its own ways of learning different things, some kids require less time to grasp mathematical concepts, others are really fast in mastering emotions. We are there to provide support and encourage the process, not to expect results. I am learning this everyday with my children and I am discovering the benefits of letting go. Let them explore and help them explore, to everybody’s benefit.