Updated: Dec 6, 2020
When my oldest son was around four-years-old, we spent a lot of time at the neighborhood park. During one visit to the park, I noticed that he ran up to another kid, raised both arms over his head, and growled. Of course the other kid ran off and avoided him. When my son did this to another child, I realized that we should have a talk.
I called him over and asked about his actions. His response was that he wanted to play with those kids. It’s clear that his approach was not working. I suggested that rather than growl at someone, he go up to them and say something like, “Hi! Would you like to play with me? What’s your name?”
He immediately and effectively used this script, and he continues to use this script when meeting new friends. To this day, he is the person in our family that finds it the easiest to talk to new people. A script empowers people with the words needed in a situation that might be challenging. It can guide us through the difficult places when our words may not come out right, when we might not otherwise know what to say, or when our anxieties have taken over. A script gives us the power to move forward in action without being hung up on having the right words.
Can you think of some phrases that your kids use that might not mean exactly what is said? Could the phrase “I hate math” really mean “Can you patiently explain this problem one more time?”. Might the words “My brother is a jerk.” really be “I wish my brother would include me in his activities.”. Also, “Can you help me with my chores?” may actually mean “I want to be near you and spend time with you.”. Our kids don’t always have the right words to say what they are actually meaning, feeling or thinking. We can help them by listening for what they are really saying and by offering a new script for things that might be hard for them to communicate.
We can look to Jesus as a model for this. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus gives us a script for prayer. Matthew 6:9 begins, “This, then, is how you should pray:...”. It doesn’t mean this is the only prayer that Jesus wants us to use to talk to God. He is just giving us a script to use as a starting point that will allow us to practice, learn, grow, and mature in our conversations with Him. In much the same way, I believe that as parents there are times when our kids need a script to have a starting point for communication.
Take time to observe and listen for when you might give your kids a new script. What words do they need to change, add, replace, or practice that will help them to better communicate with others?