Is it time to stop letting my daughter win at games?

It seemed the right thing to do for a long while... but does she need to learn the hard way at some point?


I’ve never been a big board game fan myself. But when someone bought my 5-year-old daughter Bodhi Rae a game called Candyland about a year ago (throw the dice and move the counters to see who gets to the magic kingdom first) – well, she was sold.


Grandma, Grandad, the babysitters and any friends she has round get roped into a game or 10. I don’t usually see the outcome as I tend to leave her to it.

But when I’m playing with her? She wins. Every time.

I know, I know. I can hear the tuts as I say that.

You’re storing up trouble for the future, you know, NO ONE wins every time… ?

It’s just that – I let her win the first few times (although she did win fair and square a few of those, too) and the more you do that, the harder it gets to play by the rules.

My little girl loves board games so much that they’ve actually been swapped for the bedtime stories.

The bedtime routine is now one game of Candyland or Snakes and Ladders, and 2 stories – where it used to be 3 stories.

Occasionally I’ll let her have 2 games and just one story.


Perhaps it’s the fact we’re playing it last thing in the day that means Bodhi Rae gets – errr – a tad emotional when it looks as though I’m going to pip her to the post.

Once she’s got her eye on the fact that my counter is way nearer the end spot than hers, she’ll try all sorts of tactics to win. Like…

  • telling me not to look at the dice while she rolls it and then saying she got a 6 when she got a 1, or
  • deciding that I cheated some time before and I need to go back on the board (usually to some random square right near the beginning), or
  • just saying that the rules have changed and basically whatever number she rolls next means she wins.

By hook or by crook she anticipates a loss and does EVERYTHING she can think of to stop it.

I’ve tried to tell her when I think she might be cheating – she assures me she’s not.

I’ve even tried to explain that games likes Snakes and Ladders are just won by chance and aren’t about skill – it’s just luck of the draw what number you roll on the dice. And she doesn’t seem to get that. She just knows that she likes winning. And I really don’t like watching her cry – which is what will definitely happen if she loses.

But is that short-term gain for long-term pain? And if so, how do I get out of this dilemma?

Or is 5 still young enough to always be a winner? 

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