Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. -Philippians 2:3-5, 14-15
I Don’t Wanna!
Do you ever struggle with selfishness? Do you choose your own needs over your children’s?
I know I do.
For example, do any of you shop at a grocery store where they run the “Monopoly Shop, Play, Win!” promotion? Personally, I do not like these types of games. I’m not putting it down; I simply choose to not put the effort into gaining prizes.
Earlier this year I went into this store. One of my daughters saw the game and very much wanted to play. I ignored her and told the cashier I wasn’t interested. She kept asking. I explained to her that I didn’t want to do it. She continued to ask. Something in the game strongly piqued her interest. I decided that if she really wanted to play, then why should I keep her from playing? I told the cashier that I changed my mind, then instructed my daughter, “You can play it, but you have to do it yourself.”
She was happy. I was happy. End of story, right? Wrong.
My daughter laid out the board and attempted to place the stickers in their appropriate places. The instructions didn’t make enough sense to her.
Did I help her? No, I stuck to my condition for letting her play. Did she ask me for help? No, she, too, stuck to her end of the deal. She did get some help from Daddy and eventually figured it out.
Do I feel bad? You bet! I can still picture her on the ground with the game, looking at it, trying her best to figure out what to do. I had the time to sit with her and gain a special one-on-one opportunity together. I could’ve met her where she was.
I walked away.
I realize now that I exemplified the exact attitude for which I scold my children.
“Have a good attitude!”
“You can be unhappy, but do it in a way that doesn’t bother others.”
“I know that you don’t want to, but you don’t always get to choose.”
“The Bible says, ‘Do everything without complaining.’”
“Life is not all about you.”
Do you ever have the same “I don’t wanna” attitude that our children display? Please pray with me.
Dear Heavenly Father,
The knot in my stomach says it all. I choose myself over my children time and again. I overuse the advice to “take care of yourself,” misconstruing into a major loss of quality time with the ones for whom you called me to care. Forgive me, Father. Forgive my “I don’t want to” attitude. Let me value quality time with them, even when that means an activity that I do not like. Give me wisdom to balance my time so that they see a woman who dearly loves them and You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If my story depressed you, let me flip it around, just like my attitude! Contrary to this story, I love to play table top (i.e. board/card) games with my children. Therefore, I want to work in more game time this summer. Some games can take as little as 10 minutes.
First, some games like Candyland or Chutes and Ladders rely solely on the luck of the draw to determine who wins. Many young children don’t understand why they have to lose a turn or go backward when they didn’t do anything wrong. “It’s just a game” doesn’t bring consolation at any age. You can prevent a negative game time if you consider your child’s personality before playing these types of games.
Second, the recommended ages on games are based upon testing. Many games are suitable for children younger than the stated age minimum, but the manufacturer simply never tested that age group. Therefore, your children may have no problems playing a game despite the recommended age.
Finally, altering the game to suit your child’s age or personality may be the trick to enjoying the game together. Here’s how:
- Lower the point goal amount so the game doesn’t go long and drawn out. Take away the negative aspects of the game. We started playing Settlers of Catan with our children when they were around age 5. We lowered the goal from 10 points to 6 and did not play with the Robber.
- Play pretend with the game characters. In the process, teach them to move along the path. Some games are played by creating a path, like Landlock or Blokus. Instead of playing against each other, work together to make the pieces fit. Above all else, use your imagination.
- If it’s a speed game, consider changing it into a turn taking game. Give confidence to your young child. Spot It requires a keen eye to find matches, which a child can easily do but may not be as quick as you. Start out by taking turns to find the matches until the child can play against you. And this may happen sooner than you expect!
- Go easy on them! Would you rather slow down the game so your child can enjoy and learn or remind them they’re not as smart as you? Note: you don’t have to eliminate your competitive spirit altogether. You can also teach them how to play more competitively by letting them sit next to you, absorbing the interaction, while you play with other adults.
- Play to win as a group. Take a game like Clue Jr. Instead of playing against each other, share all of the clues as they unfold to solve the game together.
- There are some games that a younger player (or non-competitive adult!) can play with only the knowing the mechanics, but not the strategy. They can put down their cards randomly without changing the challenge in the game. Some gamers call this a dummy hand, but don’t call an adult that! Tsuro, Nobody But Us Chickens, and Birds of a Feather are three games that work very well this way.
- With the growing increase of new games, don’t forget traditional card games. When you play cards with young children, use normal playing cards which show the number of hearts or spades. Don’t use cards that have pictures or photos. They remove the pictorial aspect that helps teach children how to count: