If you’ve ever been suckered into playing one of those never-ending board games against a little kid — like Monopoly or Battleship — you’ve likely faced this dilemma: On the one hand, you could play the game the way it’s meant to be played and help the kid learn some valuable lessons about effort or sportsmanship, or whatever. On the other hand, you could just speed this thing up and let them win. Yeah, they lose out on the lessons, and fine, it sets a bad precedent, but also these games can last forever and you’re only human.
As tempting as it is, though, Option B comes with some unsavory consequences:
New research shows that letting kids win can mess with their decision-making skills over the long term, stunting their abilities to use all the tools at their disposal to make the best choice.
In a new study in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, psychologists recruited a group of 4- and 5-year olds to play a modified version of a scavenger hunt: The participants watched a video in which an adult displayed an object and a few containers, hid the object in one of them, and then asked the children to find it.