A Day in the Life of This SLP: Kindness
July 20, 2016
Today, as I worked with some of my friends, it seemed that I was battling their creative play which was filled with “rough and tumble” descriptions that some might interpret as hostility.
However, my friends’ descriptions were related, in part, to oral language and social communication challenges, including their inability to understand the “dangers” or “harm” which would arise from their “fast and action packed” stories.
This type of play is also seen in younger children as they are developing their sense of right and wrong, cause and effect, consequences of one’s actions, empathy and early critical thinking (problem solving).
One of my all time favorite Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) tools, a magnetic city puzzle, became a way to facilitate kindness in their story development.
And so I share our learning conversations about kindness…
Friend: The bus is crashing into the boy on the bicycle. (Me: Why is the bus crashing into him? Friend: Because he [the bus driver] is going too fast. Me: Discussing rules of the road.)
Me: How about if the bus stops at the corner and the driver asks the boy if he’d like to ride the bus? Then the boy can say, “Thank you!” to the nice driver.
Friend: The police(man) is chasing the boy to put him in jail. (Me: Why is the policeman chasing the boy? Friend: Because he throws the basketball in people’s faces. Me: We discuss why that would not be acceptable and other ways to engage friends in a game of basketball.)
Me: How about if the policeman says, “Hi!” and they start playing basketball? Then when they are done, the boy can say, “Thank you!” to the thoughtful policeman. Or, maybe the policeman is the boys’ father and the boy can say, “Thank you for playing with me!” to his supportive father.
Friend: The car is going 100 [mph] and the Mom and baby are crossing the street….he is crashing [into] them. (Me: Why is he driving so fast? Friend: Because he is racing. Me: Discussing the danger and when/where one drives that fast, which is not in the city.)
Me: How about if the car stops at the stop sign and let’s them cross safely. Then, the Mom will wave to say, “Thank you!” to the considerate driver.
Friend: The garbage truck is crashing into the store. (Me: Why is he crashing? Friend: Because he is going too fast again. Me: Discussing road safety, again.)
Me: How about if the garbage truck driver stops at the store and the city workers pick up the trash. Then the store owner will say, “Thank you!” to the helpful city workers.
Kindness as a word is abstract to young children, but the action of being kind is easier to understand. Be sure to use comparisons between the “kind” and “unkind actions or thoughts.
Note that I started with “nice”, a word most young children are familiar with hearing, and progressed to other synonyms. The use of synonyms allows for building understanding of linguistic concepts and vocabulary.
Explore your child’s play, try not to interpret it with your adult eyes and ears. Probe for more explanations and think as your child to better understand why your child might be communicating an “unkind” thought or action. Facilitate alternative sequences and flexibility in thinking as your child develops their story.
More often than not, our children are not being malicious, but rather lack an understanding of their actions and thoughts and the impact on others. Cause and effect and consequences of one’s actions are not easy concepts.
Be sure to lead by example and share words and actions of kindness within your family and in the community. Encourage kindness and use daily opportunities to demonstrate intentional and “random acts of kindness”.
My day’s sessions ended and as I began my blog, I remembered I saved a post from “Community on Buzzfeed” entitled, “13 Children’s Books That Encourage Kindness Towards Others”.
Enjoy the beautiful selection of books and share them with your children as you encourage and teach kindness. Add these books and others to your family library.
A kind day in the life of this SLP,
Lori Savage Grayson