Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Provide a running commentary.

What you can do

Help your child become more independent by showing him how you’re doing a task. Provide a running commentary on how you’re approaching everything from household chores to family interactions.

Modeling these kinds of behaviors can be done frequently and non-judgmentally. Like a good baseball announcer, you’re just trying to describe what’s happening in a fun and friendly way. This will show your child what you’d like him to try doing.

As often as possible, show him how you ask for help. Self-advocacy is an important skill, and there are many ways we use it in our everyday lives. Common examples include asking a store clerk for assistance or a gas-station attendant for directions. Doing these things in front of your child will help him understand when and how it’s appropriate to ask for assistance.

What you can say

“Jacob, I’m almost finished getting all the ingredients ready for the beef stew. OK, now that the carrots are chopped, I can put everything in the slow cooker and let it cook all afternoon.”

“One thing we need to do while the stew is cooking is go pick out a present for Alicia’s birthday party. I’m going to ask the lady at the store what she recommends for a girl her age because I really don’t know. I’d ask Alicia’s mom, but I don’t seem to have the right phone number for her.”

“Before we go get Alicia’s present, I’m going to set the table. When we come home, the stew will be ready. So all we’ll have to do is wash our hands and sit down to enjoy a nice dinner together. Doing this stuff now should make the evening less hectic for all of us.”

Why this will help

Showing your child how to do something will give him a better sense of how he could approach a task. This applies to every activity you do, including asking other people for help.

Seeing how you communicate your needs and solve problems will help your child start to understand how to do these things himself. Self-advocacy is an important skill. It involves pointing out what’s difficult for you or what information you’re missing. Describing how you’re planning to work around those issues can help encourage your child to use self-advocacy to complete a task on his own.

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