As we explored in the previous blog post, chess is a superb tool for improving attributes such as memory, concentration, work ethic and patience during a child’s fundamental development years, however chess can also have a significant impact on behaviour. This section will focus on the behavioural lessons chess can deliver both before, during and after a game.
If you missed part one click the button below before continuing with this section!
The Benefits of Chess for Children Part 1
Chess is a relatively unique game in its ability to immediately deliver consequences for a right or wrong move. After you make a move in chess, you are directly faced with the result of your action. Has your opponent captured one of your pieces? Have they fallen for your trap? Did you perhaps miss a threat leading to the loss of your position or piece? Children who play chess automatically understand that actions have consequences, something that some children are unaware or dismissive of. This understanding of consequences allows children to develop a mature decision making process, complete with the ability to evaluate their options and foresee potential benefits or repercussions that may result. A valuable skill for the future, this awareness will aid in behaviour, as a child will be more likely to think twice before they find themselves in trouble for a rash action or be able to understand the benefits of studying for school or practicing a new skill.
Responsibility can be a difficult aspect of life for younger children to grasp, and a chessboard complete with 16 pieces to manage can help children fathom exactly that. Chess games are usually won with piece advantages. Therefore, each piece on the board is important to protect and take care of. As the sole player on your end of the board, you are responsible for the outcome of the game. There is no one else at fault for a mistake, just as there is no one else to seize the glory of victory! This is extremely valuable for children to understand as it grants them independence in decision making. In tandem with the benefits of understanding consequences, taking responsibility for actions allows children to make wise choices. The knowledge that one is in control of their own destiny will allow children to become discerning and perspicacious both on the chess board and in their life. In addition, having responsibility of pieces on the board also increases the skills of management and meticulous planning.
In order to be successful in the game of chess, one must generally have some form of a plan before diving into the action. Having an idea of what opening to start with and what strategies to pursue in the middle and end game are vital in shaping effective play. As a child becomes more experienced in chess, they will begin to naturally harvest a mental database of openings and strategies. The understanding of the importance of planning in order to secure victory and success is paramount for children to apply in other parts of their life. Planning in chess can lead to behavioural improvements with organization. Making a plan is similar to charting a map. In chess, this map can aid in knowing where to move each piece to build a stronger position. In life this map allows for the setting of goals and determining how to achieve them. Whereas the goal in chess is capturing the king, as a child understands the importance of planning they are able to discover the goals they want to reach in other areas of their life, whether it be making a sports team or learning an instrument. Planning, setting goals and mapping a path to achieve them are parallel in chess and life and allows for increased efficiency and future reduced stress.
A common scenario for children to experience when they begin to play chess is losing. At all levels of play, losing is a reality that at some point we must face. With only two players in a game, as one victor emerges, there must also be a runner-up! While some of us may lose more than others, the ability to handle loss is an immensely important skill. Losing is frustrating and may make us feel like giving up, however it takes humility and maturity to accept the defeat, learn from our mistakes and get back on our feet. Losing a game of chess is an opportunity to dissect the overall play, understand which strategies worked and which did not, and to take note of any possible mistakes. Children who play chess at a young age will learn how to handle a defeat and how to behave when something doesn’t work out. No matter how lucky or capable we are, at some point life doesn’t turn out the way we desired or expected. At that point it is paramount to accept what happened, examine the causes and chart a new course. Chess can teach children at an early age how to handle a defeat without strong emotional reactions and take advantage of the available learning opportunities. Understanding and being able to apply this at an early age can prevent significant stress and anxiety for the future and ultimately allow for greater positivity.
Chess is a game that has powerful behavioural benefits, especially for younger children. Playing chess teaches important lessons through experience that have strong resulting effects on other areas of life. Understanding how to take responsibility for actions, which may have positive or negative consequences, can greatly improve decision making skills. The necessity of planning in chess allows children to appreciate the benefits of planning in life, bringing habits for success such as setting goals and developing strategies to achieve them. As life may become more challenging in the future, losing in chess teaches young children how to accept the disappointment of defeat, learn from their mistakes and realign themselves back onto the path towards victory.