Should I let my daughter cheat?

I hate cheating. I love playing a game and having the satisfaction of knowing I won based on skill alone. I will not cheat in order to win, there is no fun in this; I would just walk away feeling a truck load of guilt, fearing a big lightning bolt from above striking my head.


Kalyra and I love to play memory game, or concentration, with animal cards together. This is a great game that helps to teach Kalyra how to think. As a mother and teacher, I aim to set up situations for my daughter that enables her to think and solve problems for herself. I am not a believer in doing things for her just so I can feel needed. If I think she is capable of doing it then she is going to do it.

Of course she is only three and so when we play she has a few of her own little rules she wants to play by. The play-by-the-rules finger in me starts to come out before I realize that perhaps there is something greater here for her to learn than just cheating is not a great thing.

This can be a morality code that can be installed in small doses as she moves through life. Her little self-centred self is probably not going to fully grasp code of ethics just yet.

Should I let my daughter cheat

Playing the game right

The more important lesson here is “How is she thinking and learning?”

So before I enforce the rules, I look at what is happening, and I may take a step back and let her go ahead. So of course, a rule is to take it in turns.

But, sometimes during her turn she might uncover two animals that don’t match, yet one of those animals she can remember having a match somewhere else. She forgets that Mummy is meant to go next and shouts,

“I know where the other one is” as she reaches to turn it over.

So I can step in here and say “No, you have had your turn. It’s Mummy’s turn now.”

And with that she loses the opportunity to use the very important memorization part of her brain that is developing as it guides her to the matching pair. And I rob her of that very important feeling of achievement. That positive internal motivation that keeps her wanting to learn more and succeeding more.

Decision made.

“Aren’t you so clever. Look how you remembered where it was. I’ll let you have this one, but remember you have to take turns and that was Mummy’s turn, but I really like the way you were thinking.”

If I continue to install values within her in our everyday life, the play-by-the-rules morality code will shine through when she needs it more later. Right now she needs to develop her self-esteem, her thinking skills and her passion for learning.

Choose your battles right. Always look for the more impactful reward.

Your Turn to Share Tips:

Do you let your children cheat?

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  • Alison

    My Monkey isn’t old enough for me to comment from direct experience, so I’ll do so based on how I intend to teach him.

    I’m with you on your particular situation – it was better to encourage her thinking and learning experience there, over the moral situation of cheating (or not). I think we have to act based on why our children would consider cheating: is it because they want to win? Or that they want to be right? Or that they might not even think that they are, as they usually make up rules along the way! Second, their concept of cheating could be vague, and that is something we as parents have to explain when they’re older and the risks of cheating in school etc are present. Or as you succinctly put it, they haven’t fully grasped their code of ethics yet.

    Oh, parenting is so hard sometimes! 🙂


    • Caz

      Parenting is really hard. You have to second think everything now, and then find a way to teach them the right way. Yeah, I don’t think they get cheating at this age. You can still talk to them about how to play and rules of games etc but a lot of the time it will fly over their heads. I like watching the way she thinks more with the cheating.


  • Kris

    I’m not sure this would’ve been an issue for me. It’s just a game at this age. I’ll reserve the cheating bit after she learns how to potty on her own 🙂 I won’t tell her though that mummy cheats when playing Mark of Kri on Playstation 😉


    • Caz

      Yeah, i wouldn’t worry about too much until the potty training is done as well. That is definitely one task that needs to be learned before anything else. Can’t wait to do that one again with our second. WE are still trying to train Kalyra of a night time. She drinks far too much before going to bed so it is a bit of a lost cause right now


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