Why every child needs to be an expert in fair play

Every good parent wants what is best for their children. Regardless of our exact hopes and dreams for our children, we all wish that they’ll grow up to be happy individuals, living in security, surrounded by a strong support system of friends and family. But these simple wishes don’t always come easy, with parents working hard to ensure that their children have the best shot at success later in life.

To prepare our children for the real world, a bit of tough love can be necessary. Being lenient and fun – sadly – isn’t always the answer. To truly be able to succeed as an adult, children need to have a solid understanding of how to follow rules and, perhaps most importantly, how to treat others with respect.

Teaching these skills can fortunately be lots of fun! At Chess Mates, we use chess as a tool to help children build these emotional qualities.

When playing chess, it’s important that everyone acts courteously. Sometimes, children struggle to be patient and polite when waiting for their opponent to think and make their move. As they come back week after week, they learn their own coping strategies – whether that’s watching a game beside them or starting to plan their own next move – and learn that polite games are the most fun games!

Sometimes, children are also tempted to cheat: moving a pawn an extra square or knocking a piece over and “forgetting” where it was before… In these circumstances, punishment isn’t always the answer. Instead, why not discuss the ethics of cheating, how it makes games less fun, and why winning isn’t important enough to sacrifice our honesty and integrity? Eventually, children build more resilience when it comes to losing, and realise that in the end, chess is just a game!

Obviously, there are other ways to teach your child how to play fairly and respect rules and other people, but at Chess Mates, we think that chess is definitely the most fun way to do it! In the long term, we believe that children who master these simple skills will be better placed to build strong, respectful relationships and see success in any endeavours they set their mind to.