Role playing is an effective teaching tool for all kinds of situations, but it is especially effective for teaching communication. Supervised role play gives your child a chance to try out different roles and styles of communication in a safe environment. It also provides a way for you to observe your child and learn how he perceives your communication habits, which makes it a valuable learning tool for you as a parent.
A Doll's Tea Party
Hold a tea party for you, your child, her toys, and perhaps a friend or two. Set a table formally for all the assembled guests. Explain to the toys the correct utensil to use for each type of food. Good table manners are part of nonverbal communication. Demonstrate how to conduct polite table conversation by discussing the weather, the toys' clothing, or even a show or movie you and the children watched together. Thank your young hostess for her hospitality, and thank the guests for attending the party.
Set up two pretend office areas, each with a play phone or an unplugged real phone. You or one of your child's friends can occupy one office while he occupies the other. Instruct your child how to correctly answer a phone and the kinds of information he might need when taking a message. Take turns sending and receiving business calls and taking messages. Alternatively, pretend to be various family members. You can take the child's part and let your child be the parent. Let him correct your behavior when you monopolize the phone, fail to take good messages and answer the phone with silly witticisms.
Pretend to be the child. Set up a variety of scenarios while letting your child pretend to be the parent. Create a scenario where you bring home bad grades or you have forgotten to get important papers signed at school and she has to deal with the problem. Develop an alternative scenario where you bring home good grades from school. Focus on using positive communication throughout this exercise. Alternatively, practice this scenario with another adult, preferably someone who can help you work on positive vocabulary to use when speaking with your child.
Read a book about chivalry, knighthood, and courtly manners to your child or a group of his friends. Clear an area or use some lawn space to set up an imaginary king or queen's court. Present a problem to the young monarch and the courtiers, and let them work it out using group discussion techniques such as speaking one at a time, taking turns presenting ideas and perhaps even compromising on plans. The problem could be something like how to get a dragon out of the orchard or settling a border dispute between two lords.
- Mindtools: Role Playing: Preparing for Difficult Conversations and Situations
- State University of New York, Cortland: 50 Communications Activities, Icebreakers, and Exercises
- Department of Labor: Communication
- Journal of Palliative Medecine: Teaching Communication Skills Using Role-Play: An Experience-Based Guide for Educators