Good Winning and Losing Behaviour

Why is my child having trouble with showing good winning and losing behaviour?

When looking at our child’s skills, we will commonly be puzzled to why they are having so much trouble showing a skill that we take for granted. The role of a speech pathologist is to break down the smaller steps that are required for your child to be successful in completing a skill such as good winning and losing behaviour.

Showing good winning and losing behaviour is actually really complicated and requires a huge number of smaller skills to be developed first. These skills include (but are not limited to):

  • Understanding small and big problems (e.g. knowing that losing a game is a small problem, and the house on fire is a big problem)
  • Matching their feelings to the size of the problem (e.g. an emergency can result in panic)
  • Learning to consistently take turns
  • Learning to be a true winner by using the good winning statements (e.g. “I was lucky that time!”)
  • Learning to be a good loser by using the right words (e.g. “You played really well, you deserved to win”)
  • Developing positive thinking strategies to calm down when big feelings arise when losing (e.g. “It’s okay, maybe I’ll win the next one”)

Is there anything I can do at home to support?

Discussing different sized problems and the appropriate responses – brainstorm different problems and categorise these problems in small, medium, and big problems and the feelings that might be attached to the problem

Use language to support turn-taking – verbally label who’s turn is next and give your child some clues when they make mistakes such as taking two turns (for example, “wait, is it supposed to be your turn? I think you just went. It’s okay, you can say sorry!”).

Encourage true winner and good loser behaviour – this can be shown through modelling, giving verbal reminders (e.g. “remember we need to match our feelings with the problem”), and supporting the child with sharing positive thinking strategies. You might want to test their knowledge by demonstrating bad winning or losing behaviour and then give opportunities for your child to point out that it’s the wrong behaviour.

Discussing why we need to be true winners - brainstorm with your child what we should say and do at the end of the game when we win and lose, and we need to help them understand friends might not want to play again with people who show off, make them feel bad, or have big feelings when losing.

Read the social story on how be a true winner here

How can a speech pathologist support these skills?

It is common that families and teachers will identify concerns with specific skills such as good winning and losing behaviour. Speech pathologists are trained to analyse your child’s current skills and difficulties to identify smaller goals your child will need to achieve as stepping stones towards achieving a larger goal, such as good winning and losing behaviour. As every child is different, the skills that one child needs support in, is likely to be different to another child. Hence a thorough assessment is always the place to start. Supports for working towards good winning and losing behaviour may include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing skills through fun and creative activities
  • Supporting parents to develop their child’s skills at home, school and in the community
  • Developing social skills through group programs (see Talking Matters website for further information

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