Of course, there’s a reason why sportsmanship is so difficult for our Asperger kids; they don’t automatically see the world from another person’s point of view. They have to be taught how to do this, and reminded – often – of how they and their actions appear to friends and peers.
Everyone has strengths and challenges, and this is just one of the challenges.
So our easily frustrated children need our guidance and help. Sure, they can learn the hard way – through noticing that others avoid and refuse to play with them – but that’s harsh. Very harsh.
I’d rather buckle down and gently guide our son through the reasons and repercussions of good vs. bad sportsmanship. And then practice those skills. Again and again. Uno? Bring it on. Chess? I’m there. Dinosaur Monopoly? Well, ok. This time. But then it’s my turn to choose the game! 🙂
Here are some of the the typical things I hear, and some responses:
- Why should I let others go first? I want to go first!
Everyone wants to go first. Would it be fair if you never got a chance to go first? Consistently taking turns gets rid of this issue – for the most part – and we use it even with grandparents. Make an exception, and it has to be re-taught. No fun.
- I’m losing!
The game isn’t over yet. Nobody is hurt or in danger, so no need for panic or tears. Staying calm is hard. Consider offering praise and incentives for remaining calm.
- Why should I congratulate the other person when I feel miserable about losing?
Do you like it when you win and the other person congratulates you? Does it feel good? Does it make you want to play that person another time? People like to play with someone who makes them feel good, and avoid those who do not.
- Why shouldn’t I tell everyone I won and dance a victory dance? I WON!
It’s fun to win, but think about the other player. You’ve been there, and it’s not fun to lose. How would you like the other person to treat you? By gloating, or by telling you what a good game you played?
- I don’t want to play against this person. Why shouldn’t I tell him that?
It hurts another person’s feelings to be told they are not wanted (would you like it?). Consider saying something like, “hey, let’s find new partners.” Or simply play one game – you may win – and then move on.
Good luck out there with Sportsmanship, that hydra of frustration, panic, behavior, and loss! Stay calm and patient, and and feel free to share your wisdom. We can all use some help in this area!