Bea Inclusive TV and Podcast
Last time I was talking about how to prepare our provision and help children with transitioning to school. In this episode od Bea Inclusive TV I will focus on how to teach losing skills.
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If you are new to me – my name is Bea and this VLOG is dedicated to advocating truly inclusive school provision through well researched, safe and recommended approaches such as Lego-based Therapy.
So, here is me inviting you to follow my journey in creating truly inclusive provision that will help you to support children and develop your skills. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Today is the Q&A Type of vlog and I prepared for you FREE resources to download.
Big thank you to Bev who send me this question and oh boy! what a good question it is:
“I’m wondering if you can advise me on any ideas for teaching a particular pupil to accept losing. I find it hard to plan activities other than simple builds”.
“When playing football, he will do anything to win…. pushing other pupils over, he feels he is the best so therefore must make all the decisions, take all the shots. He easily loses focus during Lego (and class activities)- if the pace is too slow, if another pupil is finding it tricky to verbalise their thoughts- we’ve now got other parents saying they don’t want their child to play with him due to his impulsiveness”.
“I also have 2 year one pupils both with ASC, they will hit, shout “I don’t want ……… to win” they will both blame each other “it’s……. fault “they are both very vocal and we will often have tears of anger that the other has won a game”.
“Take your pick. I look forward to your blog and increasing my Lego knowledge to support the children in developing new skills. Lego therapy is by far the best tool I use”.
Thank you, Bev this is an exceptionally good question, as a lot of teachers and parents struggles with this and I was no exception.
Why some pupils with autism find it difficult to deal with winning and losing concept?
Losing a game, it’s a very difficult concept for some children and they may have problems to self-regulate and express their disappointment in a calm and socially acceptable way.
They could shout, swear, hit, damage the game, hide, or damage elements of the game, throw a tantrum or have an emotional outburst.
The possible reasons that children with autism may struggle with this concept are:
Lack of losing experiences – as parents or supporting adults may have allowed them to win all the time so they did not develop coping strategies when they lose the game.
Struggle in the area of “Theory of Mind” – the term is used to describe self-awareness and awareness of others. Understanding that people have intentions, desires and beliefs that are different to your own. They may struggle with the concept that all children can be good at playing the game and have the same chance to win.
Struggle in the area of “Impaired Executive Functioning” – the cognitive processes that help us regulate, control, and manage our thoughts and actions. They may struggle with self-regulation or have poor impulse control.
The rigidity of thinking – inflexibility of thinking and focusing on the single aspect of the activity, in our case – winning in the game.
How to teach the child to cope with losing. The graduated way is the best and if you know the stages you can easily assess your child’s needs:
Always start with one-to-one short sessions and play the simple game for example: throwing the bin bag into the empty bucket, skittles, Pop up Pirate, etc. It would be great if you will choose a game that not excites the child very much. So, it will be easier to model the response. When the child masters the skills with you then it will be time to generalise (different – play in a different place or with different adult). After that, you can introduce another child, and from that, progress to introduce another child and after that a small group of 3-4 children before expecting from the child to cope with this skill in the classroom or on the playground.
Allow the student to win 2-3 times so you can model the things that we say when we, not winners such as: “Well done, I will get you next time”; “I lost, that was fun, let us play again”; “I lost again, I’m disappointed but I will do my best to win so let’s play”. Use this time to think about his and your emotions and ask the child how he would feel if he would lose the game. This simple stage is so important as gives you the opportunity to model socially approved emotional and behavioural responses.
Prepare necessary visual support such as verbal prompts so when the child loses, he can choose what to say. Remember to model the use of visuals when modelling the responses.
You can ask the child what level he would like to play: Easy (you have a fair chance of winning), Difficult (winning is not easy so you may lose) or Hard (you more likely to lose) and prepare necessary visual support. Nowadays, children are familiar with this concept as they play plenty of computer games so they will understand what to expect.
Reinforce and praise each time when the child stays calm or use visual prompts to help him to accept that s/he did not win. Ignore temper tantrum (if occurs in a form of crying, shouting, stomping feet, or throwing himself onto the floor).
At first, it may make the tantrum worse but eventually, your child will grow bored when he sees he does not have an audience. Avoid looking at the child and limit talking. As soon as he is calm, give him positive attention and two choices (play the game again or do something else).
Reflection on the child’s feelings and model the right response. Practice the responses.
Teach the child self-regulatory skills to cope with the stress of losing such as square breathing, belly breathing, etc. Stop the game if necessary and take your time to relax to reduce the anxiety.
You can also support the whole process with the social story– which is the way of illustrating facts around the concept of losing the game and give the child potential tools to cope with the disappointment by teaching them new positive responses to the situation for example: what to say, request break, ask to stop playing, ask to play the easy level of the game, square breathing, etc.
Alternatively, to the social story, you may watch some children movies about winning and losing or you can use real video case studies from your school.
Winning and losing videos that you can find on YOUTUBE and I will place the links in the comments below my video.
Why is it important to teach children to cope with losing?
teaches people to show empathy and cope with the whole experience of losing.
help learns from own mistakes and thinks about strategies to improve.
teaches children that they need to work hard to have success because good things are not just handed over to them.
Children who do not experience losing can grow up to be anxious because they start seeing the possibility of not winning as some form of harm and they cannot deal with situations that do not go their way.
Children who not coping with their feelings when they lose the game are having problems with keeping friends. Peers more likely will exclude them from the play because they make them feel uncomfortable.
If you would like to teach losing but you DON’T have enough hours in the day, to prepare the resources, then I suggest to DOWNLOAD my free pack which includes:
what to say when I lose the game prompting cards
different levels of the game prompt cards
let’s square breath visual support
choice board and four different options
example of a social story about losing
Lego® based therapy easy games to practice losing skills