Role-play. Role-play. Role-play.

Role-play. Role-play. Role-play.

By Rachel Allison

As a mother of five children I look back and recognize that through their formative years there are things that we did right, and there are things that we did wrong.

One thing that we did right?  We role-played with our children.  When our children felt anxiety over a new situation at school, we role-played to help them feel confident.  When our children were thoughtless or unkind, we role-played to help them become more empathetic to others feelings.  When an awkward situation was handled inappropriately, we role- played to teach them social skills. When they followed the crowd unconstructively we role-played to teach them appropriate leadership skills.

Periodically we used a set of flash cards called “Smart Choices.”  We would present our children with a problem, and then discuss what the appropriate choice should be and why.

Some of the flash cards read:

You and your sister both want to shower.  You meet at the bathroom door. You:

1.  Stand aside and let your sister go first without saying anything.  You walk away and feel sorry for yourself.

2.  Push her aside and say,  “I was here first!  I’m taking my shower now, and you’ll have to wait.”

3.  Suggest you take turns.  This time you let your sister go first but next time you get to go first.

Then the flash card explained the answers.

A.  No.  You can’t be first every time, but you can expect to be first some of the time if you speak up.

B.  No.  It was a “tie,” and one person will have to be second.  Being bossy makes others less willing to cooperate.

C.  Good idea!  There should be no problem next time.

Another flash card read:

You are at a movie.  Someone behind you is talking loudly.  You:

1.  Say nothing and hope the talking stops soon.

2.  Say, “Would you please be quiet so that I can hear the movie?”

3.  Yell, “Shut up or I’m going to get the manager.”

About your answer:

A.  No.  Saying nothing will not solve the problem.  You and others can’t hear the movie when other people talk loudly.

B.  Good!  Most people will be quiet when reminded.

C.  Not a good solution.  It may make the talker angry and uncooperative.

Our children appreciated the teaching/learning moments we spent together.  If not parents who else can teach appropriate behavior?  It is our responsibility, and the memories shared are priceless.

  • Steve Brezenski
    Posted at 07:34h, 29 April

    Thanks for a good, practical article. Here’s another idea that includes role plays as well as discussion/class room type activites. Several years ago we started something called Life Skills with Dear Old Dad. We’ve covered the whole range, from anger to optimism. We use finger puppets, crafts; all sort of things. Sometimes I choose topics based on what I see happening in the kids’ lives and sometimes from trends/issues that I read about. I study the topic and make up lessons. It has been wonderful for our family and it’s a lot of fun; the kids have responded very enthusiastically. If we go too long with out one, they start pestering me to get on the ball. I figure if we don’t teach our kids the skills they need to deal with life, who will?

  • Megan
    Posted at 08:42h, 02 May

    Did you make or buy these “Smart Choices” flashcards? If they are available for purchase, I’d love to get my hands on them!

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