Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Role-play with your grade-schooler.

What you can do

Help your grade-schooler prepare for new situations by using role-playing to think through the various scenarios that might happen from the beginning to the end of an event. You play one role and have your child play another to practice different ways the event might unfold.

Talk through what is different in each case, and practice different ways to respond. Switch roles at some point to help your child think about the event from a different point of view.

What you can say

“Sofia, I know you’re hoping to play goalie for your soccer team next week. Let’s practice what you can say to the coach so that he knows you’re interested and that you also got some good training at goalie camp last summer. I’ll pretend to be your coach. ‘Hi, Sofia.’”

“Good job, you were very clear in describing what position you want to play and how you’ve been working on your goalie skills. But what if the coach replies, ‘That’s great you went to goalie camp, Sofia, but lots of other players did too. You can run so fast that I think you’d be more helpful to the team on offense.’ What would you say then?”

“That would be a great response, Sofia. It’s nice to accept the compliment the coach gave you about your speed and show your willingness to help out the team. But maybe you could also ask him to keep you in mind if he needs a backup goalie. Let’s try that again. You be the coach this time and I’ll pretend to be you.”

Why this will help

Role-playing helps children come up with useful strategies. It also helps them remember these strategies later on when they really need them.

Thinking about other people’s perspectives is a great way to improve social skills. Practicing these skills ahead of time will help your child feel less anxious and more prepared for new social situations.

Role-playing also lets kids practice self-advocacy skills within the safety of home. Knowing how to express their needs and who to ask for assistance will help them feel confident enough to start doing these things at school and in other settings.

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