- The Self-Esteem Game, by Creative Health Services, South Bend, IN, 1983, is intended for children eight to 12 years of age. This game is both competitive and cooperative in that only one child wins, but everyone must reach the “well-being” area before the game is over. The focus is on promoting self-esteem by identifying things which make children feel better or worse about themselves. For instance, “A neat and clean appearance helps me feel good about myself,” moves the child ahead 2 spaces.
- Competitive games like War, Checkers, and Concentration are also good self-esteem builders, because children have the chance of being successful with every move they make, and in the case of War, a 50 per cent chance of winning the game.
…To win is sometimes to lose. Richard M. Nixon.
A note on Winning: Many children with low self-esteem play games with a have-to-win attitude. If they start losing, they may want to stop the game, cheat, or accuse you of cheating. You could say, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game,” but let’s be honest–it is whether you win or lose!
When I play games with children, I let some win, but I also make some lose. Children who are accustomed to getting what they want need to find out that in reality you don’t always get what you want. These children will never grow and learn if they don’t experience some frustration and failure in their lives. If I let children win, it’s because they played an honest game, they are accustomed to losing and need to know what it’s like to win, or they beat me, fair and square.
If you are playing with a child who needs to win, be sure the child feels he earned the win. The easy win does little to bolster children’s self-confidence. You can help the child win by playing a trial game to equalize sides before the game starts, by asking him to reconsider silly or impulsive moves, and by suggesting alternative moves.