Social Skills are an important area that speech pathologists help children and adolescents develop in therapy. Often developing good social skills and social communication is an area children who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder struggle with, however, many neurotypical children also have challenges in this area.
One area children often need help with, is learning to lose well. Losing badly or being a “sore loser” can really impact on their ability to make and keep friends at school.
A powerful thing parents can do to help their children at home is to let them lose. Going through childhood, infants and primary school immersed in a culture where “everyone gets a prize”, doesn’t prepare children for real life, or give them practice at managing their emotions when things don’t go their way. No wonder many children struggle with losing- it’s rarely happened to them and they have never seen others lose either!
Here are some great reasons to let your kids lose at home:
● They can practice learning to control their emotions in a safe environment
● They can see other family members model how to lose well
● They can see that you can have fun playing a game, even though you don’t win
● They can learn how to congratulate others who win
● They can learn to lose and experience disappointment with small things, enabling them to have resilience when they inevitably experience bigger disappointments, like a relationship ending, problems at work, or not passing subjects at university
● Kids who always win, and never lose, can develop anxiety and depression, as they have never learned to cope when things don’t go their way
● Being a good loser, will really help them to be an enjoyable friend to have around. It will help them make and sustain friendships, and other parents will be happy to have them around to play!
Our job as parents is not to make our children happy, it’s to prepare them for real life, without us. Parenting with the “long view”, letting our kids lose and experience disappointment will go a long way to help them develop great social skills and resilience for the “real life” that lies ahead.