Child Development: Providing A Script

August 25, 2020

Earlier this year, I wrote a post talking about the importance of teachable moments: what they are, and why they become increasingly necessary as your child gets older. In the post, I mentioned the idea of giving your child the words that they need to help them through a difficult situation, and I want to dig a little deeper into that.

Giving your child words does not mean that you are telling them what to think or feel, it means that you are providing them with a script (like in a play) that they need to help them express their emotions, and what they need. When a child does not have a certain skill, sometimes you need to teach them by breaking down the steps and providing them with opportunities to learn to do the skill on their own. This is called scaffolding, and it is a really useful way to help young children to be able to develop all kinds of skills (physical, social emotional, etc.). 

All children are capable of learning skills that we may believe are too difficult for them (even toddlers can learn to put on their shoes), sometimes they just need the steps to be broken down for them. It may take a while, or they may catch on all depends on the skill, how it is being approached, and what your child does with the information.

Imagine your child has just been hit by another child at the park, and your child hits the other child back. You might tell your child to "use your words", but that phrase means nothing to a child that has not been taught what words to use. 

By getting close to your child (down to their level is even better), and giving them a script to use such as "Please don't hit me" or "Stop hitting me", you are giving them the words that they will need so that eventually you will be able to tell them "use your words" and they will know exactly what to say in response. Most likely, this will need to be done in every situation until your child has enough responses in their arsenal that they will be able to respond to any child in any situation. 

Think of how a building is put together. Is the top of the building put on first, or is the foundation laid, and then the other parts of the building are slowly added on top. Eventually, you won't even have to tell your child to "use your words" because they will know exactly what to do when a situation arises.

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