Finishing the Game

Yesterday, my son and I played an entire game of Chutes and Ladders without him crying or running out of the room, even when he didn’t win.

This has been a long time coming. Michael has wanted to play board games for the last couple of years, but would usually quit in tears when it looked like he was losing, or try to change the rules around to suit him partway through.

I have tried lots of different approaches. We have talked about what it feels like to lose and what he could say or do that wouldn’t involve yelling or destroying the game board, without much success when it actually came down to it.

I have insisted that he come back and finish the game after calming down, often resulting in another meltdown. I have given in on occasion and played games by whatever rules he wanted.

Finally, I have said that he could choose to stop playing the game and do something else if he would tell me nicely and help clean up the game, also easier said than done. The ironic thing about this is that once we finish this, he often immediately asks to play a different board game! Uh, no.

What seems to have made the difference is a practice I picked up from his current speech therapist of reviewing the rules of an activity before starting it, even if it is something he has done before.

So now I go over the rules of each game before we start playing, no matter how many times we have played it. If he gets upset during the game, we stop and talk about what the confusion is and take however much time is necessary to figure it out before continuing to play.

At this point, I am even reviewing the rules if we play the game again right away. This is due to an Old Maid incident last week where he became extremely upset because he had the fewest matches, despite the fact that this was our second game and we had gone over the rules before the first one. Once he calmed down, we reviewed the rules again and he was able to finish the game.

Not earthshaking, I know, but one of the things I am thankful for this week.

Trish can be found writing here at 5MFSN every Friday in addition to hosting Try This Tuesday. You can also find Trish at her blog, Another Piece of the Puzzle.

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