Why to Talk
There are so many ways to express yourself, and each way can be really fun and useful, depending on the situation. For example, if you want your friend to know you are happy, you could send them a text with a smiley face emoji. If you want someone to know you are angry, you could furrow your brow or cross your arms over your chest. If you want the teacher to know you want to answer the question, you frantically wave your hand in the air. If you don’t know what someone wants in a text message, you could text them “IDK.”
These are all forms of communication and getting your point across. However, there are many times that talking with your voice, is the preferred and best way to communicate.
At Superpowers Academy, we teach students how and when to use their words to effectively communicate with others!
When to Talk
Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish when to talk, and when to let your body language do the talking for you. Here are some situations when you should probably choose to use your words to express yourself:
- Talk when you are in the room with someone in person. If you are in a classroom, on a play date, at the swimming pool, or at the park, this is when someone naturally will want to have a conversation with you! Use this opportunity to practice turn-taking, question asking, or staying on topic. Sometimes these conversations skills are harder than you might thing, so being present with other people is the best time to practice them.
- Use your words when you experience a negative emotion. Sometimes it feels easier (and more natural!) to use body language, growling, or even physical aggression, when you are angry. Teaching students to use words to express how they are feeling is teaching them one of the most important soft skills there is – emotional expression to get your needs met! A student rolling around on the ground screaming or crying could be caused by so many things. Is the child hurt? Sick? Mad? Scared? Frustrated? It’s hard to know without words. By teaching students to use their words to say “I feel _________ because ___________.” can go a long way in de-escalating other potentially explosive behaviors.
- Use your words when you don’t understand. This is the opposite of the phrase “fake it until you make it.” If you don’t understand a teacher’s directions, the rules of a game, or how to do something your parents tell you to do, saying “I don’t understand what you want me to do” is also a great way to head off any frustration.
How to Talk
Soft skills, even communication skills, can be learned in an I Do – We Do – You Do format! We use this format at Superpowers Academy, where we guide you through how to team up with your kids and learn these life skills.
” I DO “
During the “I Do” part of the skill building, you as the parent/adult tell your child what the skill is that they are learning quite explicitly (“turn taking”), and model the skill. For this example, we will focus on the soft skill of turn taking in a conversation, so it is not just one-sided.
- After someone greets you, now it’s your turn to greet them back!
- When someone asks you a question like “How are you?”, you answer the question and then you can ask them the same question back. (Example: “I’m doing fine, how are you?”
- If someone tells you a story, use active listening, and then encourage your child to either ask a question about the story, or share their own story with a similar experience. It’s “their turn” to talk!
” WE DO “
During the “We Do” part of the skill building, take some time to practice with your child, by coming up with role-playing situations that you might find yourselves in.
- Take 5 tokens, and split them between you and your child. Each token is a ‘talking chip.’ Have a conversation about anything that interests you both. You might want to play the “I like” game, where you take turns sharing preferences, and asking the other person what they like (“I like cookies, what dessert do you like?” Prompt your child to end their ‘talking turn’ by asking you a question to keep the conversation going.
- Use a ball, and sit on the ground about 5-10 feet away from your child. Have a conversation, where you roll the ball back and forth as you take turns talking. Whoever talks, should have the ball, then roll it to the other person when they ‘hand off’ the conversation.
” YOU DO “
During the “You do” part of the role-playing, your child is on their own without your assistance. Throughout a normal day, try engaging your child with conversation starters, and then point out/praise them when they engage in conversation, and then ask you question in return (“I went to the carnival this weekend. Instead of asking “where did you go this weekend?” at the end of your sentences, wait for the child to share back what they did over the weekend. Then, praise them for turn taking for the conversation, or prompt them to share what they did, if they did not share back.
There are many natural opportunities for your child to use their words to express themselves. Look for those moments in daily conversations to expand this skill into longer and more detailed communication to make the most out of developing this soft skill!