Several things I learned the hard way:
- Children have a lot of trouble accepting the idea of randomness. When Adam had a run of bad luck, he convinced himself that "the dice hate me", and it was VERY difficult to shake him out of this. It's hard for a child to understand that not every pattern they see is actually meaningful, and once they convince themselves a pattern exists they'll only remember the things that reinforce that.
Since then, we've made a point of commenting when he has a run of good luck, or when one of the other players has bad luck, to stop him from falling back into this mindset.
- Children overemphasize the power of the dice. Adam's run of bad luck killed two characters in a row, and he focused on this; what he didn't understand was that this bad luck was exacerbated by poor tactics on his part, without which those characters probably wouldn't have died. Nothing spectacular, just a whole lot of little things that added up to a dead character.
In particular, he'd focus on his characters' strengths instead of thinking about their weaknesses. When running a fighter, he'd spend ages figuring out the item/feat combination that would give him the best to-hit and damage scores. He *wouldn't* think about contingencies like "What if I need to get away from something?" and "What if I need healing in a hurry, and the cleric's not available?"
These days, I try to encourage contingency planning by quizzing him on worst-case scenarios, and when we're equipping I remind him that there are other things besides weapons and armour. Learning to have Plans B and C ready is a Good Thing.
- Sometimes it's not just about the game. We'd recently moved house, against his wishes (I couldn't go on commuting 5 hours a day) and this, along with other disruptions, had left him feeling powerless over his own life. In hindsight, this probably had a lot to do with his fixation on the dice as something that affected his life without giving him any say.