Ever have parents come to you for child therapy services requesting that you help improve their child's manners?
Maybe they are disrespectful, don't use the "magic words," or even swear (LE GASP!)
Well today I have got some great strategies that you can teach parents and clients alike in helping them improve their child's communication skills.
Children take in ALL of their environment.
If they are around caregivers who swear, are rude, and don’t use their “magic words” (please, thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me), then they most likely will do the same.
Have parents check in with themselves....
Are they respectful to others when they are in front of their child?
Do they swear?
Are they rude?
If so, encourage them to make a change.
If caregivers start with themselves and ensure that they are being kind, courteous, and polite (both with and without their child present), their child will most likely pick up on the positive communication skills.
It's also incredibly helpful for you as a therapist to model these communication skills as well!
I personally like to go above and beyond with my use of "magic words" for my clients working on communication skills since I know that children pick up EVERYTHING that they hear!
Parrot and Praise
Children are not innately born with communication skills; they need to learn them just like riding a bike, math, and music. Help your families teach their child manners by having them repeat what you say.
For example, if your client screams when you are talking to another adult, you can prompt them to say “excuse me.” When they use the prompted language, throw a praise party for them!
Children engage in whatever behaviors garner the most attention, be it positive or negative. Do yourself a favor and put more emphasis when your child is exhibiting positive behaviors (ie manners) versus negative behaviors (ie swearing).
Books are a great way to teach children social skills, such as manners.
Children’s books have a way of making concepts simple and understandable whereas adults might become too wordy. Books are additionally a more play based way of teaching skills compared to simply telling a child “no” or “use your manners.”
Some great children’s books about manners include “Rude Cakes” by Rowboat Watkins, “Do Unto Otters” by Laurie Keller, and “The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners” by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
I hope these strategies can help improve the manners in the little ones in your lives!
Until next time, Play On!
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