6 Responses to First Friday QandA: “Using Your Words” vs “Fighting with Words”

  1. Chris

    Thank you so much for the great ideas!

    I think it’s as important to teach kids words can heal. I seek every opportunity to tell my spouts how they brighten my day by what they say (even it was just a simple hello).

  2. Liz

    I like your suggestions for using puppets to teach social skills:-)

    I remember doing a similar activity in school to the paper heart one you talked about. The teacher guided us in an activity in which we “put down” an imaginary person, ripping a part of the paper each time. Then we went around and said nice things about the person and taped the paper back together. I remember learning that kind words heal although the put downs left “scars.”

  3. Hi Amanda -
    Great topic and great response!

    One of the things we discuss in the Redirecting Children’s Behavior course is how children learn from what they see adults, particularly parents, do. When parents handle conflict through peaceful discussion, children learn to do the same. In teaching children win-win negotiation – which includes making sure that others get what they want, too – children learn to resolve disagreements peacefully. We always suggest that parents ask their children (and children learn to ask themselves) three questions:
    1. What is that you want?
    2. How can you peacefully get what you want?
    3. What is another or alternative plan?

    I love that you suggest that parents/teachers give children the specific words to use. Often, adults advise children to “use your words” and children have no idea what words to use!

    Another terrific resource is Dr. Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline. One of the tools that she uses is the “Time Machine” in which kids re-enact conflicts. It allows children the opportunity and the practice of a do-over in which they can use the words they would like and resolve it the way they would like.

    I am putting a link to your video in next week’s issue of Parenting News. We’ve also covered your entire review of Mind in the Making over the last seven weeks. Thanks for your great posts that are such a pleasure to share with parents!

    All the best -
    Maggie Macaulay, MS Ed
    http://www.WholeHeartedParenting.com

    • Elexa

      Lovely, Maggie! I like the mental script you give the children. We do something similar verbally for our little ones.

  4. Elexa

    Excellent Q&A! We have just been discussing this topic in my classroom.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on teaching scripts and language to children who are just entering the single-word utterance phase, that is toddlers. At our school we begin giving names and labels to feelings, wants, and experiences right away. All the while we point out positive interactions we see occuring. We verbally walk children through problem solving using descriptive language. We encourage them to use words at their level of development and then supplement with additional scripts.

    But it gets a little tricky when you ask a child with limited language to use phrases. Often their meaning gets misinterpreted which is the opposite of what the child or adult would want. For example, “it my turn now” often comes out turn. And the child wanting the object recognizes it as an invitation and the child using the word recives the message that turn taking actually means getting their toy taken anyways.

    What words/scripts would be helpful in this common toddler situation?

    • notjustcute

      I’m a big proponent of “speaking up” to children—that is, use simple sentences, but use language and phrases that they may not be able to use independently yet. As we use language around them, they will connect meaning and be able to use this language as well. With very young children it’s helpful to use “sportscasting” basically giving a play-by-play, describing what they’re doing. As young children begin to use their words, you may also need to add some clarification to their script. Just be sure you’re clarifying and not assuming or changing their meaning. So if a toddler is using the word “turn”, you might say, “Jess is having a turn” (sportscasting) or ask, “Do you want a turn when Jess is all done?” (clarifying).

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