"Board games are NOT family fun." 6 things parents of competitive kids know to be true.

Some individuals thrive within a competitive environment, while others… don’t.

I have one very competitive child and another daughter that couldn’t give two sh*ts if she was the best, the worst or in the middle.

With our competitive child, my husband and I actively work with her to channel this characteristic positively and to utilise its assets.

As a result, I’ve also become quite attuned to spotting the other competitive kids out there.

Here are the things you know to be true if you’ve got one in your household.

Watch: Things mums never say at birthday parties. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

Board games are NOT family fun.

I loved board games up until recently.

Yes, even as a 30 something parent I still got excited about game night. Possibly because I was an only child who struggled to play them solo, so I might be making up for my severe neglect.

Or, possibly, because I am a bit childlike myself. Regardless of why, when my competitive daughter got to board game age I was so very eager to start playing them with her.

Uno, Cluedo Junior, Guess Who, Bop It – whatever the game was, I was ready and willing.

But then I learned, from very early on in the game (so to speak) that this wasn’t going to be harmless fun.

Parents of competitive children will understand what I mean when I say that board games often feel like a tightrope that we teeter along while playing them, never quite sure whether we’ll make it to the end unscathed.

The truth is, while competitive children love it when they are winning, if they roll the dice and have to slide down that snake, or ‘draw four,’ their world can collapse around them.

And honestly so can ours, because it is now our problem to help manage it.

Anything, ANYTHING can be competitive.

And it isn’t just board games or card games, or outside games. It is literally anything.


From who can swing the highest on the swing to who cried the least when they hurt themselves, who has more friends, whose bruise is more purple, who has more hair, who looks the most beautiful in their party dress, who was born first, who can buckle their seatbelt the fastest or get dressed the quickest…

It doesn’t matter what it is, it can and most likely will be competitive.

Winning is paramount.

Competitive children are often focused on being the best or coming first place, and it can be the be-all and end-all of whatever it is they’re doing.

If they win, they are OTT excited about it, like they’ve brought home gold in the Olympic 50 metre sprint.

But if they lose, a passer-by may think that they’ve broken a limb. Not the reality – that their sister guessed the person was Anita and they did not win the game of Guess Who.

If they can’t climb that rope as high as the other kid in gymnastics, they are “the worst”, even if they were only one hand length further down than “the best”.

They can brag.

If winning isn’t enough, competitive children will often also brag about their success and it can be… a tad embarrassing.

“I was the best at doing cartwheels, wasn’t I mum?” Said in the most pleased and loudest voice imaginable in front of the other children who were also doing cartwheels.

Competitive sports days are dreaded.

When you discover the athletics or swimming carnivals are coming up at school you shudder. Because even though Jimmy is great at so many other things, these things don’t involve running, or throwing, or jumping, they aren’t competed against at carnivals and you don’t win ribbons for them.

So, to them, it doesn’t count.

You also know that it is not that your competitive child is a brat or needs to learn how to lose graciously, it’s the fact that your child views winning as important and is still learning how to deal with their feelings when they don’t.

And in the meantime, as you work with them to develop those skills, you know that when non-athletic Jimmy comes home from school not winning any ribbons he is going to be upset, and seeing this will probably make you upset too.

Parents of these children deserve a medal for effort.

Although effort ribbons and awards are not always met with the same degree of appreciation as the place-getter ones are (especially by competitive children), as their parents we definitely deserve one.

Oh… and a stiff drink.

Shona Hendley, Mother of Goats, Cats and Humans is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education and is a passionate animal lover and advocate.

Feature Image: Getty.

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