The art of successfully social coaching children lies in the little memorable phrases that we weave into their interactions. A short, easy to remember, social code word or phrase can be used to quickly re-direct a child and turn potential social mishaps into social successes.
One phrase that I have been employing frequently in the past few weeks is working for many kids with helping them to manage impulsive actions that can negatively impact friendships. For example:
- The child who grabs a toy or object from another child’s hands.
- A child who impulsively knocks over another child’s building project.
- The child who scribbles on someone else’s drawing.
We are working with the phrase “ask before action” to help slow down the impulsive tendencies. It is most beneficial when the adult keeps an eye out for any signs of impulsive gestures and inserts this phrase into the situation before the child takes action. If the child has already done something impulsive, we can give a reminder about the importance of asking before taking action and helping the child make amends by handing the toy back and practicing how to ask or helping the other child re-build the project, for example. Improving small interactions like these goes a long way to removing the barriers to true friendship.