The Importance of Role-Playing

In a way we are constantly role playing, pretending to like something or hate someone just to fit in. Complaining about things (when really we should be grateful for everything we already have) just to make conversation.  Life is all about role playing, and it all started when we were kids.  But role playing isn’t always negative, it can actually convey messages and help kids deal with certain situations (and adults) when they are confronted with them.  So part of your quality time with your children – which you should make a focal point in your daily routine – how about using role playing as a way to teach kids manners, rough situations, emergency protocols, or just for laughs?  Try these great role playing scenarios and I can guarantee you’ll probably get more out of them than your kids will, and you will definitely get great insight into their unique personalities.

  • Being lost in the crowd – this is a big one, make sure you role play being the police man in one case and a stranger in another to teach your little one how to deal or respond. A good one to include is also what to do if they are physically forced into a car (for the latter be prepared to hear a lot of screaming, which you should tell them to do!).
  • Service industry role playing is great, teaches patience courtesy and dealing with difficult people (you might even want to add some money as a small tip to make it more real as an extra). Have them be waiters, travel agents, retail sales, cashiers, etc. This is also good practice for their summer jobs in the near future.
  • Role play the usual suspects: doctors, sheriff, cowboys/cowgirls, teachers – this will be what they would probably ask for and it’ll be more for them just for the sake of role playing than for any other reason. But you can spice it up a bit by being the over talkative student, or the sly robber.
  • Parent-Child role play: role play as each other be prepared for some harsh mockery of your mannerisms – but this will give you incredible insight on how they see you and how you probably treat them on a day to day basis. This is also a great way to get them to do some chores (i.e. moping, picking up the toys, or laundry folding) to give them an appreciation of what you do.  Be gentle and careful not to mock them or criticise their mannerisms too much, although it’ll be very tempting; kids are much more sensitive and this may make them more self-conscious and self-critical of themselves.  You can also role play as other relatives or friends, again being sensitive to how you mock or mimic them so that you don’t give the negative impression of making fun of them.
  • Think outside the box and maybe role play as a new immigrant who doesn’t speak the language, or if your child is a bully, have them switch roles and get bullied themselves (within reason – again be very careful how you bully here).

Remember that any role playing should avoid being forcefully physical, or emotionally critical and negative. The idea is to have fun and teach, it’s not about you getting back at your kid for not following you rules or mimicking some of your mannerisms (as sensitive as that may be) – remember they are kids.  For them to have a certain social maturity or awareness…well, that’s why you should do more role playing in the first place!

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