Role-playing | Importance of play in child development | Preparing child for success

Role-playing, or practicing, is essential in preparing a child for success by learning how to handle situations for the best possible outcome. Studies have shown the importance of play in child development helps them develop, grow, make better choices, and increase positive behavior.

Every skill taught on Smarter Parenting involves an element of Role-playing as practicing makes a behavior skill stick.

Role-playing teaches your child what is expected of them and how you want them to behave in specific situations. Without guidance, children can have difficulty knowing how to handle situations they never encountered. Role-playing requires practicing the new behavior repeatedly until your child has mastered how they would respond. You can Role-play almost any situation your child may face, both big and small. Parents can Role-play saying no to drugs or alcohol, reporting self-harming behavior, or how to act when a parent asks them to do something.

Role-play is beneficial for both young children and teens. Children that Role-play are better able to handle situations, including ones they’ve never encountered or Role-played before.

How to Role-play?
Getting a child to Role-play can be tricky. Many children will think they don’t need to practice as they’ll know what to do. Or that practicing is for babies. It can be challenging to convince them they need to Role-play. When a child fights Role-playing, here are some things you can do.

1. Role-play during a neutral time. One of the best things to make Role-playing successful is to practice during a neutral time. Doing it when you or your child are tired, frustrated, or busy will set the Role-play up for failure and discourage your child from practicing in the future. It’s ok to take a timeout when you or your child are frustrated and come back at a later time to Role-play. Role-playing when tired, frustrated, or angry will only make you and your child hate Role-playing.

2. Start with simple scenarios. Set your child up for success by starting with things that will be easy for them to do. If they feel like they were successful, they are more likely to be Role-play more challenging situations. On Smarter Parenting, you can find a list of easy, medium, and challenging topics for children and teens.

3. Offer a small reward for practicing. Giving an award is motiving for a child to continue to practice as they feel they are getting something out of the Role-play. Rewards don’t need to be monetary. Reduction in a chore, increased screen time, or choosing family activities can be used as rewards. Just find something important to your child. Rewards don’t need to be given every time but are especially helpful at the beginning for child motivation.

4. Make it fun. Children are more likely to want to participate if it feels more like play and less like something they have to do. Voices, costumes, crazy situations, etc., are all ways to make it fun.

5. Be silly. Your child will be almost as silly you are, and being silly allows your child to have less fear about messing up. Keep it short. Shorter, more frequent practices are better than long ones.

6. Keep it short. Shorter, more frequent practices are better than long ones.

7. Give Effective Praise. Offer praise for effort even if it isn’t perfect. If your child feels recognized for what they are doing, they’ll be more likely to want to continue until they get it right.

8. Understand your child. Children with anxiety, ADHD, Autism, or other issues can find Role-playing challenging. Know your child’s limits and Role-play to their abilities.

As you and your child Role-play, you’ll notice that Role-playing will become a regular part of everyday life. Your child will begin Role-playing scenarios without your prompting or encouragement.

Visit Smarter Parenting for additional Role-play ideas for kids, including games and activities.

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