If you read my post about games, you already know a bit of this. These kids play intensely and imaginatively. There is no simple game of tag. And losing is a personal affront.
I started teaching last week using the same competitive games the kids play all the time. My goal was to teach the littler kids who aren't quite as adept how to lose and how to win. I realized I hadn't taught these skills yet. Losing graciously is a skill that must be taught. I cannot expect my four and five year olds to magically know how to accept loss without whining. Kae had been doing it fairly ok most of the time. But T was not. He struggles with anxiety sometimes, so losing means adjusting expectations and processing life in a different way. I needed to go back and really teach how to do that and support the feelings that came out as a result of losing.
I also needed to teach perseverance. The idea that when one loses, or doesn't want to play a particular part of the game, one may not simply quit then rejoin when the play suits them. I directly monitored play so that I could help everyone with the big feelings and needs while teaching new skills.
I was pleasantly surprised when the first training session went as well as it did. The following play time, there were surprisingly few issues. However, the one after that and today's are experiencing many. Just as teaching addition isn't perfected in one session, so life learning requires multiple teaching times. Today's solution is no more competition because I am not in a state to be able to manage it and help teach. Much to Sawyer's dismay. But this is a learning opportunity for him too. Not all fun games require competition. Guess who else gets intense life lessons soon!
Wednesday, when they next have free time together, I hope I am in a better position to follow through on the expectations I set. And intimately monitor the group dynamics so I can address issues as they arise. Sawyer will be engaging in activities that do not include winning or losing. Kae and T will get to practice winning and losing graciously. Mack and Will are along for the ride. Sy too. She is typically grouped with the younger kids because she is tiny. But she is scary fast and wiry, so she is a big kid for these purposes.
Sometimes, we expect kids who are academically well beyond their years to also be socially and emotionally beyond. But they rarely are. More often they lack skills in the interpersonal department.