Have you ever watched your child play a video or iPad game. I find it fascinating how easy it seems to come to them. I used to watch my then 4 year old grandson play “Real Steel” based on the movie of the same name. It was a fighting game and he was obsessed with it. He fought as one of the movie’s robot fighters and took on other ones and he did pretty well at it. Of course the funny thing is he would claim to be the winner whether he actually won or not. His robot could be laying on the ground in a scrap heap and he would still pronounce proudly his victory. Maybe it was a contest to see who could come apart at the seams first. If that is the case, then yeah, I guess he won. He also liked to say, ” Oohhh, I ALMOST won.” They have a word for that..LOSING!” His obsession with the game at that time also manifested itself when he was NOT playing the game. In this case he pretended to fight, throwing punches and kicks at imaginary robots complete with commentary and sound effects. “Noisy Boy vs Twin Cities….Twin Cities vs Noisy Boy…Ready? FIGHT!” A few swings and punches at nothing along with reaction by him as if he is being hit as well and…”Twin Cities WINS!” How he decided who actually won was and still is a mystery to me… if you were to go by the dramatic flops to the floor, you would think he was ALWAYS getting his butt kicked. But he seemed to enjoy it and as long as he was punching air and not someone else…like Grandpa, it was alright.

Speaking of losing…I haven’t taken the time to study all the psychological and emotional aspects of failure for children, but I wonder when it is appropriate to introduce a child to the wonderful aspect of losing. I used to play card games with Georgie and inevitably, I would do what I could to ensure that he came out on top. Not that I believed he could not handle losing…my thoughts were, why subject a four year old to failure so early. He will get his share of that once he starts going to school and begins his inevitable march toward adolescence and eventual adulthood. I’m sure I’m in the minority when it comes to this. Perhaps, if I had experienced disappointment at an early age, I wouldn’t have been such a pain in the arse about losing during my childhood days…which judging by my reactions to the Dallas Cowboys and their mediocre ways, hasn’t ended yet. But I digress…

These days, my now 8 year old grandson is all about “Fortnite.” The funny thing is, he really doesn’t worry about winning and losing. He just likes the dancing these guys do. My thinking is, you just got shot full of holes. What is there to dance about?

I am also especially fascinated watching my fifteen year old son, who is autistic, play games. I find it amazing to watch him take a new game he knows nothing about, and proceed like he has been playing it for years. No instructions, no trial and error…BAM…immediate success. He likes to play the “Temple Run” type games, especially the one based on the “Wizard of Oz” movies and he is excellent at it. He has an almost sixth sense when to jump, turn, or duck. Things jumping out from the sides, roads collapsing, mean nothing to him as he instantly reacts to them appropriately. I tried to play the thing for about two minutes and died almost instantly…hard to run when you have your head taken off. As for losing, he takes it in stride for the most part. In fact, sometimes he seems to go out of his way TO lose, so he can hear a games reaction to your failure. “Awwww, better luck next time!” Perhaps Georgie could learn something from his Uncle Jeffery…losing has it’s appeal…as long as you can always play again!

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