Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tip 11 - Mind Games

Try these great rainy-day and birthday party activities to cultivate your child’s ability to take the perspective of others.
Play pretend2 to four years –. Realizing that with imagination one object can substitute for another,  a block can be a  house,  a box a garage, a piece of string a road, help your child build a city on the floor with objects from around the house. Explain that this is a made-up city and see if your child can come up with ideas of his own:  bridges made out of wooden spoons, doll beds made out of shoe boxes, etc. , To help build your child’s interest in sounds, cars in the made-up city can make  different sounds, like the roar of a train, the putt….putt….putt of a an old car, the “errrrr” of a police siren. As children get a little older they will love to dress up in your clothes and pretend they are grown-ups. Pretending is the beginning of moving out of the ‘here and now’ and a focus on ‘me’ to start to take the perspective of others.  Researchers call this “theory of mind” – a skill that is the center of “people skills” and essential for getting along with others and ultimately managing others in a profession or in business
Sock Puppets 3  to five years – one of the best rainy day activities for preschool aged children is to make puppets out of old socks with some left over buttons, string, markers and a little glue. Children love to create their own puppets and then think of stories for them to act out. When children use puppets they are automatically trying to figure out how someone else thinks—taking the perspective of another person. Whenever a child pretends to be someone else, they have to think like that other person.  That skill becomes an asset as a child gets older and wants to make new friends, join new clubs, or adapt to a new school, for example.
Charades6 years to adult – Another rainy-day or birthday party game that keeps school-aged children busy for hours is Charades. The classic way to play is to make a list of movie titles, TV shows, common phases, popular books, and the like. Write one each on index cards, put them in a box  and have children pick them from a hat and try to act them out  for their friends without using any words. You can form teams that compete by taking turns with the charades and either keeping time or keeping tabs at how many guesses it took before the team guesses the phrase. Learning to communicate without words and to “read’ the faces and gestures of others is a critical skill for success in most careers; Charades is one way to builds those skills.
Researchers have found that taking the perspective of others, often called “Theory of Mind” is a skill that distinguishes a mature brain from a childish brain and differentiates adolescents who are achievement oriented leaders and from those who have problems resisting peer influence.  The ability to take the perspective of others is not only essential for development of social skills but also important for most high level professions from medicine, teaching, and coaching, to business management and sales. It appears that this skill is acquired over a long period of time so  enjoy creating opportunities for your child to develop the ability to “take perspective” with activities that inspire pretending to be someone else.
Step 11 -  Mind Games - build your child's mind through games that involve pretending to cultivate the ability to take the perspective of others

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