Get Your Paws on Outfoxed

Wendy Lias, LSW

In her recent post, Winning and Losing, Dr. Corinne Masur discussed the importance of working with children around issues of sportsmanship, sore losing, and winning with grace.  I could not agree more that one of our responsibilities as parents is to help kids wrap their brains around these concepts. Our children’s eyes are on us and their ears are open—perhaps nothing demonstrates this better than my two year old repeating some of John Mulaney’s standup routine that her uncle and I were quoting to each other over Facetime recently—this means, that one of the best ways to teach children how to handle winning and losing is through modeling the behaviors ourselves.  In my family, our absolute favorite way to do this is by playing games with our kids. 

               This brings me to one of our current favorite games: Outfoxed by Gamewright.  A variation of the classic whodunit premise, Outfoxed asks players to work cooperatively to find the fox who’s guilty of stealing Mrs. Plumpert’s potpies before it has the chance to vanish down its foxhole.  Players share the common goal of discovering clues, revealing potential suspects, and stopping that wily fox from making it to the end of the board.  If you’re working on tricky winning and losing behaviors in your home, one of the best things about a game like Outfoxed is that everyone can practice them together.  Either all players jointly accomplish their goal and you can model gracious winning or all players were unable to successfully beat the game and everyone loses together.  As someone who tends to be super competitive myself, I can tell you that it’s so much easier to practice not being a sore loser when there’s no beaming winner staring at me from across the table.

               Even if your focus is not on the winning and losing, Outfoxed is an excellent game for younger players.  The game allows children to hone skills like visual discrimination, deductive reasoning, basic game strategy, and respecting the decisions of fellow players.  And if all you’re looking for is a game that you can play with your kids without being driven up the wall, Outfoxed still fits the bill.  The board and illustrations are vibrant and whimsical without being in-your-face and the game play is fairly intuitive.  My one word of caution is this: make sure you troubleshoot the use of the clue decoder before you start your game play.  That said, our three consecutive defeats because we were using that piece incorrectly certainly gave us ample time to practice our losing skills. Oops. 

               What games have you been playing with your kids? Are you interested in some of our other recommendations? Let us know in the comments here or on our Facebook or Instagram.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Winning and Losing

Dr. Corinne Masur

Today is a good day to talk to your kids about winning and losing. The subjects of sportsmanship, humility and grace come to mind – as well as braggadocio, sore losing and bitterness.

Whatever side of the electoral battle you were on, you and your children will be having strong feelings today – and this week – and perhaps for months to come.

So what do we say to our children? And at what age are they ready to have this conversation?

Well, really children of any age, starting around 3 know about winning and losing – and they can talk about the feelings that come when they experience each. Of course, depending on your child’s age, you will speak about this differently.

But the place to start is to remind your child – whatever age they are – that how they and your family feel at this moment is not the way that everyone feels. Some people are extremely happy and relieved today and some people are extremely disappointed and upset today. And you can remind them that it is normal to feel happy when you win and upset when you lose.

HOWEVER – and this is where the more nuanced part of the discussion comes in – it is important, however you feel, to be aware that other people might feel differently than you do and to treat them and their feelings with respect.

Good sportsmanship is something that kids who play sports should be learning. You can provide this as an example: after a game, your team shakes hands with the other team to indicate that you both played a good game and that there are no hard feelings left over from the competition.

The losers can feel upset but still lose graciously. This is a concept that can be introduced to a 3 year old and also to a 16 year old.

And the winners can feel happy and joyous but they can also behave graciously by telling their competitors that they played a good game. Children can be reminded that bragging about winning is not the way to go, even though inside it feels so good to win.

You can tell your children the story of “burying the hatchet”. When Native American tribes had disputes or wars with each other, when it was over, they literally buried a hatchet in the ground to symbolize the end of the disagreement.

This is a way to handle winning and losing too. After someone has won or lost, it is time to bury the hatchet, to accept the defeat or the victory and to move back to getting along.

Today, I fervently hope that our nation can do this – and that all of our children can learn something about how to win and how to lose with grace.