Role-playing for children’s development
All of the behavior skills on Smarter Parenting involve Role-playing which means the topic of “how do we Role-play, what can I Role-play” is a frequently asked question. The good news. You can pretty much Role-play anything to help your child’s development! No, we’re serious! Just a few things you can Role-play are: how to act on a date, how to act at a restaurant, how to give a presentation, how to share, etc.
The purpose of Role-playing is to help your children know what to do, how to act, and how to think through those difficult situations. As adults we sometimes think kids should automatically know how to act. They should know to be quiet in a movie or say thank you when they receive the gift. The only reason we know how to act is because we’ve had a lot of practice and all that practice has played a huge part in our development.
Often the reason kids act out or make poor decision is because they don’t know how to act in that specific scenario. They’ve never been coached on how to say no to alcohol or how to express their emotions and so they. Our duty as parents is to help them navigate the world by giving them the tools that will make them successful. While it’s a lot of work to prepare our children for the future it’s a lot more work not too! Remember the wise Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And that prevention comes through Role-playing.
Preparing our kids for future situations isn’t a one time thing. For them to really learn and know what to do it has to be an ongoing conversation with lots and lots of practice. The more we Role-play with them the easier it will become.
You may feel overwhelmed with the idea of Role-playing, but you’re probably already doing a form of it with your children. You’re doing it when you show them how you want laundry folded, when you work on their class presentation, or discussing how to act with the babysitter. What post parents aren’t doing is making them practice aka Role-play those behaviors. It’s the practicing that will make the major difference in how they internalizing the new behavior.
The biggest obstacle we find when parents are starting Role-playing in their family is to know what situations they can Role-play. We’ve created a list of things families can practice. We recommend starting with some of the easier scenarios. Once your family feels comfortable with the basics of Role-playing, that’s when we recommend moving on to the medium or hard topics.
Because children and teenagers have different situations they’ve encountered we’ve created Role-playing lists for children and teenagers. Our teenage list deals with things like how to respond to sext request, and saying no to drugs and alcohol. The list for kids includes more basic things like how to brush their teeth or sit through dinner at a restaurant.The list is just a starting point. You may find that there are topics not covered that your children need or that there are suggestions that don’t apply to your child. That’s ok. As a parent you know what your child needs—we’re just giving you the tools to address the need.
Don’t be afraid of Role-playing. We know that you can do it! And once you get it you’ll wonder why you were ever afraid of it!