Role Playing

Step On! – October’s Article of the Month

Role Playing is acting out a situation by the parent, the child or both together that can:

  • teach a lesson or a new skill
  • solve problems by sharing feelings, facts and opinions about situations that have already happened, or
  • practice approaches to what may occur in the future.

Try these techniques:

Reversing roles with your child can help teach a lesson of solve a problem. This is especially effective if you have a good sense of humour. The conversation might go something like this:

Mom (acting child’s role): “Mommy, I didn’t like the lunch you made today, so I threw it at our dog!”

Child (acting as Mum): “That wasn’t a nice thing to do.”

Mom: “It was a big mess everywhere, but the dog licked up most of it.”

Child: “You wasted the food, and food costs lots of money!”

Mom: “I’m sorry, Mommy. If I don’t like my lunch again, I’ll tell you with words. Okay? Can I give you a hug now?”

Ask, “What if. . . what could you do?” questions to get a clearer picture of your child’s fears and feelings. Find a quiet time when the two of you can practice what might happen under various practice what might happen under various circumstances. “What if you are staying overnight at Grandma’s house and you are afraid just before you go to sleep … What could you do?” “I could bring Daddy’s flashlight and keep it next to me in case I need it.” “Good thinking. Here’s another question. What if you really miss us while you’re visiting Grandma. What could you do?” “I could call you on the telephone.” “That’s riight, you could, but what if we weren’t home? Then what you could do?” “I could go tell Grandma I was lonely.” “That’s good thinking honey, I’ll bet she’d give you a big hug and some hot chocolate!”

You can play with “Good Choice” and “Bad Choice”, two stuffed animals designated by you and your child for the purpose of talking about a bad behaviour that has happened earlier. This works well at bedtime and goes like this:

Your child holds the animal called “Bad Choice” and describes the bad behaviour in a low-pitched voice, “I was very mean to my sister. I called her a dummy and pished her out of my room because she was bothering me.”
“I see,” says Dad. “What do you think “Good Choice” would have done?
Child (holding the other animal and says in a softer voice): “Kara, I’m playing with my racetrack now. Here… you can have these two cars to take in your room to play, okay?”

Use puppets, dolls, or favourite stuffed animals to tell a story that will help prepare your child for what is going to happen.
Dad speaks to his son through Teddy the puppy, “Psst… I bet I can guess why you don’t want to go to your cousin’s birthday party. I know you love cake and ice cream and games. I wonder if you’re worried about not knowing all the other kids. Daddy will make sure your chair is next to your cousin’s and Aunt will introduce you to everyone. And Daddy will stay in the room until you wave goodbye… okay?”

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3 Comments »

  1. […] Role-playing these skills with children can help a child better understand his role in social interactions with his friends. […]

  2. […] of the strategies I have always included in my classroom would be role-playing (read our article on role-playing). By letting able bodied preschool children experience the world in a manner almost similar to that […]

  3. […] Role-playing these skills with children can help a child better understand his role in social interactions with his friends. […]


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