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As every actor, musician, or athlete knows practice leads to success. In today’s podcast, ADHD parenting coach, Siope Kinikini discusses the fifth element of the Teaching-Family Model, Role-playing.

Role-playing is one of the most important, but often overlooked, tool in raising successful kids. Role-playing allows a child to practice new behavior over and over again until they feel confident in handling whatever situation they are placed in. When children have confidence in their ability to handle situations because they’ve practiced it, you’re allowing them to make better decisions and to take responsibility for the decisions they are making.

We offer parental guidance when we encourage our children to practice reading or homework, or piano over and over again so they can master it. Mastering behavior is no different.  We can shape new behaviors by Role-playing new behavior.

What happens to the brain when we learn something new is that new pathways are created. The more we repeat the action–whether that’s the piano or Role-playing–the stronger those pathways become until the new action becomes second nature in our brains.

Because children are learning how to navigate the world, they need a lot of practice, especially when it comes to behavior. The Teaching-Family Model is different than other behavior models in that the parent will model the behavior first. This modeling is effective in helping kids navigate life as they see how it’s done and aren’t left to guess what they should be doing. By structuring Role-playings you are helping your child understand the importance of practicing while keeping them from getting too overwhelmed with all they are learning.

The behavior skill of Role-playing shows you what elements should be included to make Role-plays successful. Visit Smarter Parenting.com to watch the Role-playing skills lesson.

Children don’t always like to practice. Turning Role-plays into a game is one of the best ways to get your child motivated to practice as games and activities don’t always feel like practicing. For example, playing the game Simon Says is a way to Role-play. In the game,  you’re practicing both the skill of Effective Communication aka listening and Following Instructions. We’d wager you child wouldn’t even recognize that they’re Role-playing.

Role-plays don’t have to be huge productions to be successful. What makes Role-plays successful is their repetition.

Remember, practice leads to success!

Episode Transcript

In this episode I want to talk about the Teaching-Family Mode and the fifth element that makes it so powerful. The fifth element is practice, or Role-playing. That is the doing, how to do it. This is episode 13, let’s get started.

Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach for ADHD. Here to heal, and elevate lives is your parenting coach, Siope Kinikini.

Well hello everybody, I hope everybody’s doing great. I am so excited to talk about Role-playing, and the doing part of the Teaching-Family Model. Now, I’ve covered all the other four elements, but this one is particularly important when we’re talking about how to shape and change behaviors for your children. It’s in the doing. Now, I know there are a lot of people who are turned off by that phrase, Role-playing. And, specifically people who just think it’s hokey, and it’s weird, and it’s odd, and it’s just bizarre.

Importance of Role-play

But, I want to challenge you. I want to challenge your perception of Role-playing, and the importance it plays in helping to guide your children to the behaviors that they should have. Now, when you go to a movie, or you go to a play, or you go to the symphony, or you go even go watch your favorite rock band. I want you to take into consideration that they just did not show up one day, and decide that they were going to do that, and boom, it happened magically.

Life doesn’t work that way. If we were to take how much time they spent mastering the craft that they are doing or performing, we would see that all along the way they have spent a lot of time practicing. Practicing together, practicing alone, practicing over, and over, and over again until it becomes second nature.

I went to go see a play not too long ago, and I go to a lot of plays. I go to a lot of plays, I enjoy them, I think they’re great. I go to musicals, I think they’re great too. I go to concerts, I love to go there. But, while I was going to the play what I noticed during this particular play, and it was The Wizard of Oz, was that during one of the segments something went glitchy with the set. It was a weird thing, and I knew it wasn’t right because for a brief instant I could tell on one of the actors faces that something was off.

While I was kind of panicking in a way after I saw that, I noticed that the actors just picked up where they were, and they just continued on despite that difficulty. Now, this isn’t the only time that’s happened to me. I went to this big, huge musical review down at a theater in Southern Utah, it’s called Tuacahn, it’s a beautiful place. It’s actually a theater that’s outside, and it’s surrounded by these huge red rock mountains. They can actually flood the stage with water, it’s pretty phenomenal. I mean, it’s a spectacle.

But, during one of the plays they were doing The Prince of Egypt from Dreamworks. They actually made a musical about it, and during that scene there was a baby crib in the middle, and it was supposed to go down into the stage slowly like this. Well, it went down, and one of the parts of the crib actually caught, and it wouldn’t go down. It actually started to tilt like this, and you could see that the machine trying to pull it down, or at least move it down, was struggling.

But, what you notice is that the actors are able to respond to that despite that disruption, without any difficult at all, right? The reason that they’re able to do that is because they have practiced, and they’ve practiced in order to know what to do in case something doesn’t work well, and to to know what to do when things are going well, right?

Practice rewires our brain

This idea that practice actually makes us rewire our brain in ways that we can react, and do things productively is not a new concept. In fact, all of you all know that, that’s the way the world works. So, why do we believe that children are any different? They’re not. Children need just as much, if not more practice in what they need to do to correct behaviors, right?

Now, the fifth element of the Teaching-Family Model that makes it effective is this idea that we actually are going to structure some time with the child to practice these behaviors, whether it’s Following Instructions, or whether it’s disagreeing appropriately with us, whether it’s communication. We’re going to teach them the steps using the Teaching-Family Model, but we’re going to practice it with them.

Now, in the practice with the Teaching-Family Model, we actually as parents, are going to demonstrate it first. We’re going to show them how to do that, and that does a couple of things. First, it actually makes the child more comfortable with what is happening because they’re like, “Okay, I’ve seen it, I think I understand it because I was able to observe you do it.” That touches on a lot of different senses for a child, so they’re able to see you do it, they’re able to hear you do it, they’re able to gauge where you are, they can tell by your voice tone how things should go. I mean, this type of practice actually prepares them to do it on their own. It gives them confidence to know what it looks like, and how to do it.

The importance of you actually doing it first is huge. Do it first. You need to show them first how to do it, and then you allow them to practice it back with you. Now, just like any muscle, the more you practice the better off you’re going to be at it, and so children need consistent practice. The Teaching-Family Model in the way that it’s structured is, there is a time that you do sit down and you practice it with your child, whatever skill it is that you’re working on. So, you can practice that then. But, it also encourages parents to practice it at a later time, and this is an unscripted practice to see if they’re able to gauge the concepts, and snap into that.

Now, what that does is actually, it helps the child put it in context of everything else that’s happening in their life. For example, if I was teaching my child how to Follow Instructions effectively, we would practice it together one time. Then I would prepare my child and say, “Hey, I am going to ask you later to do something, and I want you to do exactly what we’ve practiced. But, I’m not going to tell you when I’m going to do it, I’m not going to tell you what it is, but we’re going to see if you can do it. But, it will be later today.” I’m giving them only a specific time frame.

Now, when later on comes I can say, “Okay, well I need you to go and bring me my toolbox.” That may be the example that I use. “I need you to go get me my toolbox.” Now, if my child does not follow the steps that we’ve practiced, then all I have to do is prompt and say, “Hey, do you remember what we practiced? I’m just reminding you that this is our test. I’m testing you to see how well you can do.” That should snap in their brain, “Oh yeah, I remember that. Let me try it. Let me … let’s do it again.” Then what you do is you practice it at that moment.

Now, if the child is able to recognize that and they do it perfectly, you definitely want to praise them because hey, it’s starting to connect, right? And, the muscle memory is starting to be there. Then, you continually do this where you say, “Okay, well tomorrow I’m going to ask you to do something.” This is just for following instructions. “Tomorrow I’m going to ask you to do something, and I want you to do it, but I’m not going to tell you that we’re practicing it, that we’re doing it again. If you can follow the steps, then we’ll have a reward for you.”

You’re actually preparing them by letting them know that it’s going to happen again, and they have to remember this. But, they don’t know exactly when. Now, this is integrating the skill into everyday life for your child, and this is a powerful and effective way to help them do something, use it, and then realize how it connects with everything else in their life.

The Role-playing or the practicing part of the five elements that make the Teaching-Family Model effective, is such an important role. You can do all the other pieces in there, but you will not be successful unless you Role-play it, unless you practice it. It is such an essential part of that. The other part is, Role-playing can help build relationships, because in a way you are learning to communicate, and collaborate, and work with your child. Don’t dismiss this as being less than all the other pieces. They all work in conjunction with each other, but Role-playing really is the power behind getting this whole muscle memory thing to work, right? This is where we actually are exercising what we’re learning, and applying it into our daily life.

In closing what I want to say about Role-playing and practicing is this is super, super important for you to try this. Now remember, Role-playing and practicing come very naturally to young children. In fact, you’re going to be able to Role-play with them when they’re young fairly easily because they are always pretending, and they are always trying new things, and they’re ready to experiment.

Turn practicing into a game

The older the child gets, the more difficult it is to Role-play. Now, you don’t have to call it Role-play with them, it’s the idea of practicing whatever it is you’re trying to teach them over and over, to be sure that they got it, and they understand it, and they know how to behave. You’ve set a good example by being the example first, and then having them practice it over and over.

Some strategies to help older kids do it, is to turn it into a game. You can be very playful with it. In fact, I found that parents who are more playful with the Role-play as they get older, children get older and are more resistant. Kids tend to drop their defenses, and they tend to participate. That can be in a lot of different ways. You can use your sense of humor, you can joke around, you can admit that it feels kind of weird and say, “But, we’re just going to keep doing this, and trying it until we can get it.” Or, you can explain to them the importance of being repetitive. You can explain to them the importance of repetition, right?

That’s it for me for this week. I hope that everyone understands the essential part of Role-playing, and why it’s so important. And, that actually it exists all around us. There is an amount of practice that we do. Now, I had mentioned going to plays and seeing Role-playing happen all the time. That’s just one example, but I want you to think about a surgeon who goes into surgery. He’s had multiple times where he’s actually practiced before he performed surgery on a human being. He’s had to have the practice. You have to have some practice. In fact, physicians call it practice. “I have a practice,” where they are consistently trying things, and trying to get things into their memory.

Piano players, musicians continue to do this. Mechanics, anyone whose involved in some type of craft requires some type of practice. We are not, no one is born to just perform. We all have to practice, and so practice. You want your children to be successful? Take the initiative and practice with them. They will be successful, I can guarantee it.

All right, that’s it for me. If this has been helpful, please subscribe to the podcast. You can find us on any podcast listening … you can find us anywhere online, iTunes, and Google, we’re there. Also, share it, and leave us a review if you found this helpful, and let us know what you’re thinking. That’s it for me, and I’ll see you again next week. Okay, bye.

For more information on the Teaching-Family Model check out the following resources:

Ep #11 What is the Teaching-Family Model

The Teaching-Family Model

Our Teaching-Family Model family

The Teaching-Family Association

The ADHD Smarter Parenting Podcast with Siope Kinikini

© Smarter Parenting 2019

Siope Kinikini

I’m a dad. I enjoy being a dad. I like things to do things that are challenging as well. I’m especially fond of mint-chocolate chip ice cream.

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