How does role-playing help kids deal with challenging circumstances?
Unexpected challenges will happen and it’s easy for those challenges to stop kids in their tracks. Although you can’t save children from every challenging situation, you can give a beneficial tool to help them better navigate the challenges and choices they will face.
The next time your child is struggling with how to handle a situation or not sure what choice to make, try role-playing. It gives your child’s brain a blueprint of what they can choose to do.
Role-playing also gives them:
a safe space to express themselves
a sense of control and calm as they work through their emotions
an opportunity to problem-solve as they act out the solutions to the situations.
A few days ago, my son Kai came home from school upset. There was something going on at school so he vented about the circumstance. Then, of course you know me, I asked what emotions it triggered. We talked about his emotions and then we role-played the circumstance.
I said, ‘Kai you be you & I will be the other person.’ I acted out my role in the circumstance he was facing at school and as he acted out what he was going to choose to do or say, I could see relief and less stress on his face. Then we reversed roles. We even started being silly by changing our voices. We both laughed. It was a way to add some humour to a serious situation.
The more fun you make role-playing, the more it will put your child at ease and the more they will enjoy doing it.
Until next time…
5 Apr 2023
Two Strategies to Help Kids with Their Challenging Behaviours
When kids display challenging behaviours, it’s easy to react from your emotions.
You can easily respond with frustration, irritation and anger, triggering you to yell, ‘Why would you say/do that?!’
Training yourself to be aware of the emotions you are experiencing and how to navigate them is an essential part of teaching kids to do the same.
Before you can help a child self-regulate – you must do it first.
Take a moment to pause and breathe deep. Then try asking this question, ‘What were you feeling when you said/did that?’ You are now creating an opportunity for a more meaningful and empathetic dialogue which will help you get to the root of what is really happening.
Helping children learn to be aware of their emotions and how to move with and through them in healthy ways helps to shift their behaviour.
Here are two strategies I find extremely helpful to do with my 10 year old son…
If he can’t find the words to tell me the emotion he is feeling, I bring out the ‘elephant emotions‘ poster. Approaching the situation from this angle allows him to identify the emotion that led to his behaviour. It also helps him understand that he was making his choice from that emotion. I remind him that he is a good kid that is having a hard time with his emotions.
This is what I know: When a circumstance happens, it triggers an emotion and out of the emotion you see a behaviour. These two strategies will help you discuss openly the process of recognizing, identifying and releasing emotions in healthy ways so that the next time they react from a circumstance, instead of reprimanding, you can say with compassion and patience, ‘What are you/were you feeling?’