Yesterday during Harry's nap, Bess wanted to play Candy Land. We play a bit of a modified version - for example, if you pick a special card you can only go forwards. If it requires a backwards move, you discard it and choose again. This is mostly to keep the game moving along, since Bess' attention span is not really long enough for a protracted game of Candy Land.
Obviously, I am just playing to play with her, and I've always just referred to it as a game to see who gets to the party first. The game isn't over when someone arrives - we keep playing until all the friends get there and the party can begin. However, yesterday, Bess was cheating! Cheating! And freaking out that I was "winning", though I've always made the effort to avoid references to winning and losing. It brought me back to checkers games of my childhood, where my sister and I overturned more than one playing board in frustration at our inability to beat the other.
How does this happen? And why? Personally, I am a competitive person by nature (nurture? I'm not really sure.). I realize that we live in a competitive culture, and of course my husband makes his living promoting and cultivating competition among young people. Oftentimes, we use the idea of a "race" to get Bess to do something, i.e., let's see who can get their shoes on first, get in the car first, get to the table first, or whatever. But I've always made a concerted effort to emphasize cooperation over competition, yet there it is anyway.
A while ago someone sent me a link for cooperative games for young children. Guess what Bess will be getting for her birthday...