By Beata Bednarska

Hi there,

Today is Q&A blog! 

Keep reading until the end folks as I prepared for 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 pupils 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 very good question as a lot of teachers and parents struggles with this and I was no exception. Let’s get this party started 🙂

Why some pupils with autism finding difficult to deal with wining and losing concept? 

Losing a game it’s a very difficult concept for some ASC (Autistic Spectrum Condition) children and they may have problems to self-regulate and express they disappointment in a calm and socially acceptable way. 

They could shout, swear, hit, damage the game, hide or through 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 didn’t develop coping strategies when they lose the game.
  • Struggle in 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’s 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 area of “Impaired Executive Functioning” – the cognitive processes that help us regulate, control and manage our thoughts and actions. They may struggle with the self-regulation or have a poor impulse control.
  • 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:

  1. Always start with one to one short sessions and play 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 the 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 place or different adult). After that you can introduce another child and from that progress to a small group of 3-4 children before expecting from the child to cope with this skill in the classroom or in the playground.
  2. Allow 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’s play again”; “I lost again, I’m disappointed but I will do my best to win so let’s play”.
  3. Prepare necessary visual support such as verbal prompts so when the child lose he can choose what to say. 
  4. You can ask the child what level he would like to play: Easy (you have fair chance of winning), Difficult (winning is not easy so you may loose) or Hard (you more likely to loose) 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.
  5. Reinforce and praise each time when the child stays calm or use visual prompts to help him to accept that s/he didn’t win. Ignore temper tantrum (if occurs in a form of crying, shouting, stomping his 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 doesn’t 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).

  6. Reflect on child’s feelings and model right response. Practice the responses.

  7. Teach the child self-regulatory skills to cope with the stress of losing such as: square breathing, belly breathing, etc.
  8. 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 easy level of the game, square breathing, etc.
  9. Alternatively to the social story you may  watch some children movies about winning and loosing or you can use real video case studies from your school.

Winning and loosing videos that you can find on YOUTUBE

Why is it important to teach children to cope with loosing?

Losing games:

  • teaches people to show empathy and cope with the whole experience of losing
  • help learns from own mistakes and think about strategies to improve.
  • teaches children that they need to work hard in order 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 their lose the game are having problems with keeping friends. Peers more likely will exclude them from the play because they make them feel uncomfortable

Want know more? Check this website!

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 social story about losing
  • anger rules,
  • Lego® based therapy easy games to practice losing skills

I hope that you enjoyed my blog today Bev 🙂 Could you please let me know in the comment section below if I answered your question fully. I hope that you’re satisfied. 

After you’ve finished, join the discussion below  to share exactly what you learned and, more importantly, the impact of teaching this skill on your pupils lives.

There you have it!

Until the next time…

With love 💖 and endless appreciation


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1 thought on “Teaching losing skills. Why it’s important and how to teach this social skill?”

  1. This is absolutely wonderful. Thankyou So much, your wisdom, knowledge and obvious empathy shines through all of your honest guidance. I am already looking forward to your next blog 👍🏻

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