The other day B. & I were playing a game called “Poppin’ Puzzlers“. There are two sets of little shapes that you try to put in the proper place on the puzzle, racing against the timer. At first, we were racing furiously against one another to fill our side of the puzzle, only to be met with frustration when the puzzle popped up before either of us were more than halfway through.
After a few rounds of this, I suggested another way. Why not work together, and see if we could at least get one side done before the time elapsed? My six year old B. eagerly embraced my proposal, and we set to work. The first time, we were still a few pieces away when the puzzle popped. We paused before the next round, and strategized a bit about how to get it done a bit faster. The planning work, and we were able to complete the puzzle and shut off the timer just before it popped. High fives all around, we had done it!
Now we have a new way to play this game. The competition is now us against the clock, and we work together to finish the puzzle faster each time.
This simple game provides several insights. Setting up a game like this to work collaboratively is a great way to teach good communication. Moreover, it serves as a reminder that we often get locked into situations we assume are zero sum competitions, when we can turn the tables and collaborate. Sometimes a paradigm shift can make it a whole different game. And when we as parents find a chance to demonstrate a life lesson through a hands-on activity rather than a lecture, we do well to seize the moment!