While sitting here at my computer working, my son and his older cousin are in the living room playing Mario Party 8. Normally, this game is a wonderful tool for him to develop his motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination and even problem solving skills. However, as he gets better at it, he’s finding that he has a much harder lesson to learn… that he can’t win all the time.
I could hear it building until finally he stomped his feet off into the kitchen screaming “I don’t like to lose!” with tears streaming down his face.
At this point, I got up, went into the living room and looked at him. Again, he looked at me and screamed “I don’t like to lose!” so I said “well then, if you can’t lose at it, you can’t play it” and turned off his game.
At this point, I expected a much larger meltdown so I had to move quick while I had his attention.
Before he could even open his mouth, I said “do you want to play this game again?” and he yelled “YES!”
So I said “well, you’re not going to unless you can lose.”
I continued “do you like to play the new Donkey Kong game?” and he said “yes” and I said “well, you’re going to lose.”
I said “do you like to go bowling?” and he said “yes” and I said “well, you’re going to lose.”
At this point he came back in and sat on the couch… knees up under his chin.
I said “Let me ask you Cameron, if you win… who loses?” to which he replied “Emily” (his cousin).
I said “Do you think she likes to lose every single time?” and he said “no.” I said “well, if you win every single time, she loses every single time. I bet she doesn’t like losing either. It wouldn’t be much fun if she got mad and stormed off into the kitchen, would it?” and he said “no.”
I said “Do you think that Emily wins every single time when she goes bowling?” and he said “no.”
I explained to him that he has to lose sometimes, Emily has to lose sometimes… even I lose sometimes. But when you lose, you get better at it until eventually you will win.
He felt better about it, but there’s no quick fix for this. 10 minutes later, he was right back into the game and getting mad that he was losing. Some people never grow out of it. We all know people that get really mad about losing.
And trying to teach a 5 year old with Autism that you have to lose in order to learn how to win is quite a tricky task to be sure, but it’s one of the fun parts of parenting. I like to think that a little bit of what I said sunk in… and next time a little more.
For this talk, I lose. But I’ll keep at it until I win… because when I do, so will he.