Here's what I do. Before we play, I ask my daughter if she wants to play "the teaching way" or straight. "The teaching way" means that after each of her moves, I help her analyse it and suggest improvements and point out any errors that I see. Such games tend to be very closely matched since, after all, it ends up being her+me against just me.
But she also enjoys playing straight sometimes, and then what's fair is fair.
I think it's absolutely a bad idea to let a kid win falsely to boost their confidence – it's false confidence. But I also don't agree with a hardcore "never let them win until they force it". I have found my hybrid "teaching way" allows me to teach her the game more quickly.
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia
I once had a discussion with two friends about this very topic, in which we all described how our parents did it.
My father played against me, but would let me take back moves and would often (I suspect) play less than optimally so that I could win more than half the time.
My friend Faith's father wanted to play with her, but like many gamers didn't enjoy "playing poorly". So, instead, he would handicap himself by removing certain pieces from his side of the board, then play to the best of his ability from there. As she improved, he would handicap himself less and less until they were on an equal footing.
My other friend Micah's father just played well every time, and Micah repeatedly lost until one day he didn't.
After this discussion, Micah pointed out that it was interesting that we each thought our parent's way best, and that it had clearly influenced how we turned out and our views on games/competitions/problem solving.
I'd suggest you teach your child the way you'd like to be taught. Do you want them to know you're there to help, or that you're always honest with them, or that you want them to always persevere? Games teach kids more than just the game.
The right way to encourage a kid is to make it fun. You can have a plethora of attitudes to the importance of chess for them:
Just a game.
Something to do.
Something to learn and improve at.
A way to handle mistakes or losses.
A way to focus.
A serious activity by playing stronger players and even tournaments.
That's really your call for what you want it to be for them – and their interest.
Andrew Koenigsberg, USCF expert, Fide 1977
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