When Kids [with Speech and Language Delays] Start Playing to Win

NPR recently examined the development of competitiveness in children with When Kids Start Playing to Win. The story examines Vince Lombardi’s famous quote through the eyes of children,

“Winning isn’t everything, but it’s the only thing. In our business, there is no second place.”

According to the story, children have the desire to “win” when they gain the ability to categorize (for example, small/big, many/few). This develops in typical children around age four or five. This is the child who wants to be the fastest one or to get the most.

Winning with Speech and Language Delays

Children with Speech and Language delays often have difficulty with comparing and categorizing vocabulary around them. At age four or five, they may not be motivated by competitive games like their peers are. You can help support play and categorization skills at home with preschool games like Don’t Spill the Beans (empty/full, top/bottom).

spill beans

Competition and Self Esteem

Competition becomes different around seven and eight years of age when children begin to use social comparison. This when children realize there are “smart kids… fast kids and cute kids.” As you can imagine, self esteem has a big role here. This can be a devastating time for children with Speech and Language delays because they don’t often have the words to express their frustration with being “on the bottom.”

Play to Win

Supporting Social Thinking Development

The story recommends that at this fragile age, children should be compared to themselves and not to “Scotty Superstar.” This is excellent advice. Talk about what your child was able to do last week, last month, last year. This doesn’t just have to be about sports skills either. You can play up your child’s growth in reading, math facts or even their Speech and Language Goals. Your child’s Speech Language Pathologist can provide data evidence.

Need another push to change you and your child’s competitive habits? Take it from Vince Lombardi,

“If every single man on our team knows, when the game’s over, that he played the best ballgame he was capable of, I can’t fault him.”

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