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King of the Castle

King of the Castle on a Snow PileEver play King of the Castle when you were a kid? If so, you know the taunting challenge and sting of defeat all rolled into one lovely chant sung by the kid who bestest their rivals (you) and gained the spot on top of the hill, pile, rock, picnic table (or whatever else makes them higher than everyone else) and they sing out: “I’m the King of the Castle and you’re the dirty rascal!”

Boy, does that bring back some memories.

Today, I encourage you to bring out this old game if your kids haven’t been introduced to it already. And yes, some of you may have just given me the hairy eyeball on that one and are wondering why I am so cruel as to suggest a game that brings out the competitive edge in those kids you just got settled nicely on the couch.

Want to know why?

Because, believe it or not, it is healthy for your kids.

No, really. A little competition is healthy for our kids. Challenges such as King of the Castle teach our kids how to deal with conflict, competition, winning, losing, and even cooperation (think of two younger siblings unroosting the eldest) and maybe even sharing (the two youngest siblings are now looking down at the eldest from their perch).

Whenever we step in and calm a little tuffle that is bringing out the competition in our kids–because let’s face it, King of the Castle isn’t just about skill and timing, it is about competing and besting the other players, even if for 2.3 seconds–we interfere with a chance for them to learn about themselves and everyday situations. Playing King of the Castle is a chance for them to learn how to solve conflict, deal with annoying winners, be a gracious loser, and of course, a gracious winner–even though the whole point of the game is to rub your momentary win in the face of others.

King of the Castle on a RockStill not convinced? Think of it this way, there are always going to be those competitive rub-your-nose in it types out there in the real world, right? So, would you like your child to learn how to deal with it now when the biggest ‘risk’ is them stomping home in tears? Or would you rather protect them from it and then later in their life when they are at their first job they get so angry with a coworker who is a competitive nose-rubber that they end up losing it on this person and getting themselves fired? Probably not the last one, right?

While it is in our nature and coded into our genes to want to step in and protect our children from every sting and arrow in their childhood, we also need to peel back the protective barrier every once in awhile and let our kids deal with some small stings so they build their own protective armour for when they leave our nests.

Every day is a learning opportunity for kids and play is learning. Let’s let our kids play.

How about you? How do you approach competition? Any King of the Castle scars to show and stories to tell?

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