The Lessons to Teach a Child Who Wins a Bet

Now, you shouldn't gamble with kids. But when you do and they win, there are some teachable moments.

by Luis Paez-Pumar
A collage of two hands, one of a father, one of a son, shaking as a child wins a bet

It’s not a great idea to gamble with kids. The younger someone starts gambling, the more likely they are to develop a fondness for the rush it provides. But, let’s be honest: not everyone listens to that. And, last night, as Villanova pulled away from Michigan in the NCAA championship game, some parents likely faced a harsh reality: they lost a bet to their kid. If you count yourself among them you now have the task of conceding to them. And, like all things parenting, there are lessons to be learned from this, namely, how to be a good winner and manage their (meager) winnings.

Of course, there are ways to handle such a defeat gracefully. You have to accept that they bested you, while also using the opportunity to teach them about gambling and graciously winning. It’s also a good time to teach them about proper money management. Here, then, are three steps to make sure that losing a bet to your kid isn’t a horror show of bragging and relentless roasting.

Demonstrate How One Accepts Defeat

Don’t be a grump 0r make a big scene. Congratulate your kid immediately and do whatever consolatory fist bump or handshake or high five fits your style. Can you make a silly scene of how you lost for their benefit? Sure. But in the end they need to know that a loss, no matter how disappointing, should not equal anger or pouting.

Make Sure They’re Not Gloating

If they’re excited, don’t tamper with it. Let them be psyched; let them jump up and down. Just make sure they do it in a way that wouldn’t be misconstrued as gloating. If you feel like it, or if your kid is old enough, take a minute to help them understand how their joy of winning might make the person who lost feel. Should they not feel good? No, but, if you’re able, you can teach them that they also don’t want someone else to feel bad.

Be A Man of Your Word

If you made a monetary wager, pay up. Don’t wait an hour or a few days. You want to show them that you’re a man of your word. It’s as simple as that.

Encourage Them to Use Their Winnings Wisely

If your kid won a few bucks off you (again, not a great thing to do), teach them how to use the money they earned. While your kid might want to use the money to buy trading cards or toys, why not suggest that they save it for the next movie they really want to see or toy they’re interested in? Or suggest that they add it to other savings they’ve already stashed away so they can have more spending money on summer vacation or for their sleep away camp supplies. Whatever they use the money for, you should emphasize that money spent well is more valuable than money spent quickly.