There are rules to playing cards that go beyond the rules of the specific card game you are playing. There is a certain etiquette to dealing, playing, winning, and losing. There is a vocabulary; dealer, shuffle, draw, discard pile. The only way you can learn is by doing it.
Last night, I set out to teach my son how to play UNO. Before we started, I removed all of the Skips, Draw 2’s, and other funky cards as well as all cards that were higher than 5. This left us with a more manageable deck and a lot less to teach/learn.
So, we played…
Dealing 7 cards is different than counting 7 cards. So, as I dealt, I said, “One for Edison…One for Mommy…Two for Edison…Two for Mommy…”
I explained the deck, the discard pile, and the basics of how to play. He picked it up pretty quickly. Without a doubt, his favorite part was yelling, “UNO!” each time he got down to one card.
The advantage of playing UNO with a preschooler is that their hands are too little to hold the cards in such a way that no one can see them. When I had the opportunity to play a card that would help him out, I did. But, I never held back a card that I could play or let him “accidentally” play the wrong card. Letting a child win leads to false expectations and poor losers. Plus, they can’t get better if they always win.
We played 2 games. The first game, he won. You would have thought that the sky had opened up and rained fruit-juice lollipops and Transformers. He was ecstatic. We high-fived and he asked to play again.
The second game was a different story…It took him a moment to realize that he hadn’t won. Then, the waterworks started.
I hate to say it, but that is exactly what I was hoping would happen. It presented the perfect opportunity to talk about good sportsmanship. After he calmed down, we had a nice little talk about how it is nice to win but not winning is fine too.
“That’s how we learn,” I said.
He will have to lose a lot more before he learns how to be OK with it, but last night was a great start. This morning, he wanted to play UNO first thing. He won, fair and square. Afterwards, we shook hands and said, “good game.”
Great job, Little Man! 😀