My daughter Eva, who´s seven years old, is learning how to play draughts. Well, in fairness, I think I recall playing with her a bit some time ago, but for some reason, we had not played again in a long while, so she had forgotten the rules of the game.
Playing with Eva brought me many memories from when I was a child and played draughts with my sister Cristina, who was the one who taught me. And she would always beat me up! I don´t remember ever winning a game… In my defense, I´ll say that she´s six years older than me, and in children, such an age gap makes a big difference. Now she looks younger than me, but that´s a topic for a different post 🙂
The thing is, one of my strongest memories is how stunned I was when all of a sudden she would take two or three of my pieces in a row, and I totally didn´t see it coming. It wasn´t because of losing that I felt so bad (I never really minded too much if I lost at games), it was the feeling of impotence, of not knowing how to play well, and being unable to catch up or get ahead.
And sure enough, now the one getting that feeling of impotence, game after game, is Eva. She doesn´t know how well I understand her.
We all have gone through similar experiences when we start learning something for the first time, and we´re awful at it, or so we think; in reality, it´s just that we still don´t know how to do it, it´s that phase of learning that we call conscious incompetence. It´s unavoidable. And it can be really, really frustrating, especially when we haven´t been outside our comfort zone in a very long time, and we´re used to things always going well for us. Nobody wants to feel clumsy and useless, like a fish out of the water.
But we keep forgetting that every new learning needs to follow its process, and naturally, that takes time. What´s important is persevering, keeping up the practice, and making the most of our "mistakes", so that we can improve our technique, strategy, or whatever it is that we need to improve.
I´ve always considered board games to be a good rehearsal for life, a good way to learn skills that we can apply later on to any other situation. Thiking about this week´s example with the game of draugths, a few things come to mind:
- Managing emotions like sadness, anger and frustration.
- Being patient with yourself, and with others.
- Focusing on learning and improving, as opposed to winning or losing.
- Allowing yourself to be imperfect and make mistakes.
- Observing, to become more aware of what´s happening, and be able to foresee your opponent´s moves.
What about you? What learnings have you discovered through games? Was there any game you found particularly frustrating?