The winning disease

Kevin, giving Rocco a bottle: “This is a good vintage.  January.” *********************************************************************************************************************************
Thanks for your advice on V’s night terrors—turns out he’s not special at all, thank goodness.  Your advice was so good you’ve earned another cry for help from me.

So Vincenzo turns everything into a competition, and he has to win every time.  “I was the first one down the stairs!”  “I’m the first one to get ready!”  “I was the first one done with my ice cream!”  Does this sound familiar to anyone but me?

We have tried to mess with him 100 different ways.  He’ll yell that he was the first one to get to the table and I’ll say, “Oh darn.  This was a competition for second place, so I guess that means you lose after all.” 

Surprisingly, a temper tantrum ensues.

Or he’ll yell, “I was the first one to look out the window!  Daddy loses!” and I’ll say, “Okay, here’s your first place medal.  It’s really teeny tiny, so you might not be able to see it.”  I  pretend to put a teeny medal around his neck.  Then I put an imaginary gigantic last-place medal on Kevin’s neck and he falls to the ground it’s so heavy.

Surprisingly, a temper tantrum ensues.

Lately I’ve taken to just beating him outright.  If you see the Mom racing her son at the mall and clearly kicking his ass, and as her son screams that she cheated or that he was first or that the race wasn’t fair, the Mom insists, “Nope.  I won. You lost.  I didn’t cheat—I’m just faster than you.”  Yeah, that would be me.

Surprisingly, you know the what happens next.

The situation is only getting worse though.  Yesterday Vincenzo called from his room, “Mom, can you come into my room for a sec?”  “Sure,” I said…and as soon as my foot crossed into his room, he yelled, “I was the first one in my room!  I win!”  And if anyone else ever does beat him in something, he uses our strategy and tells them it was a second-place competition so he wins.  Oops.

At dinner last night, we had this conversation:

Vincenzo: Who will be the first one done with dinner?  Me!  I win!
Me: Who will be the first one to be the last one to finish dinner?  Me!  I win!
Kevin: Who will be the first one to be a daddy?  Me!  I win!
Kevin: V: Who will be the first one to wear a blue shirt?  Me!  I win!
M: Who can be the first one to say, “Vincenzo?”  “Vincenzo!”  I win!
K: Who will be the first one to stop competing?
V: Me!  I will!  I win!  I’m the first one to stop competing!

So.  What am I supposed to do?  Keep beating him until winning seems like a novelty?  State more loudly and more frequently that I’m not competing (as that’s actually the most common strategy I use)?  Stop acting like we’re four-year-olds around him? 



11 thoughts on “The winning disease

  1. Remind him that he was the first one to get Night Terrors and pee all over his mom. BOOM.

    No, but seriously, this was a thing with Lennon for a while. She was being particularly gloaty at one point, so I sat with her and I just told her that winning is fun, but that winning or losing isn’t going to change the fact that I love her. It’s not the winning that makes her special. It’s the fact that she’s here at all. I got my advice from Mister Rogers, so I feel like it’s pretty solid. It’s barely a step down from asking Jesus himself. It worked, is all I’m saying.

  2. well…here is what I would do. I would pinch him really hard everytime he says he wins at something. REALLY hard…under the arm.

    okay….so we might both know I wouldn’t do that.

    What I would do. I would give him no never mind every time he says it, or tries to engage you in a competition. I would simply say, “I’m not playing that right now.” or “I’m not competing.” or “huh…winning seems really important to you.” Each of these just said in a normal tone, and then walk away or go about what you were doing. Don’t make it a power struggle to engage in his competition…just state something and be done with it. If he keeps trying to engage you, just walk away.

    Then let me know how it goes…if he ends up needing therapy…..don’t blame me. 🙂

  3. Hrm. Squirt him with a spray bottle when he says anything about winning? Wait…that’s for cats…

  4. To Renee’s BOOM comment- bahahaha. I know that’s mean, but too funny. Being a Mom has sucked more than felt good recently. I needed a good laugh.

    All the 4 year old competitive/power struggley stuff is driving me bat shit. James will push me out of the way to be line leader, as I’m heading down the effing stairs. The whole “we’re all special thing/everybody wins” message I don’t know about…..Yes, James is very special to us, but in life he’s going to win some and loose some. Teaching him to be gracious about either outcome is what I THINK I should be working on. But I’m at a loss on how to get a 4 year old to understand the concept when all he cares about is winning.

  5. Thanks for thinking of me–the article was helpful. It made me feel like it’s not too late to help V and it’s okay that we let him win when he was littler.

    Hope you’re having fun back on the job! I bet your students were so happy to see you.


  6. I’m pretty onboard with Corey. Vincenzo’s obviously getting an enormous amount of pleasure (aka attention) from being first so I would just sit him down with you and Kevin and seriously (not sternly) let him know that even though you joke about it, you don’t like all of the competing and that it makes it not very fun to play and interact with him when he’s doing that. Let him know that in the future if he is acting too competitive or not being a nice winner that you will have to let him know that you don’t want to play anymore. Then stick to it and keep it simple – he makes those comments and you just calmly say, “No thank you, I don’t feel like competing right now” and move on without grudges or “teacher looks”. We haven’t had this specific issue with Madison but when other things have been obsessively focused on, it has worked for us.

  7. Sounds like what he is really saying is “I was first SON…I WIN all your attention and affection…I will PROVE to you that I am the number one boy in your lives and I will prove it continuously cause I don’t trust you to remember! 🙂

  8. I always say that I always win cause I am older. No seriously, I think some kids are just really competitive. If you ignore it he will stop doing it…eventually. Plus he will learn that there are times when he is going to lose. Then again maybe not. I still like to be the first at everything and right now am throwing a major fit that I didn’t get to comment first!!!!

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