Role Playing to Teach Specific Behavior
The best strategies for establishing acceptable behaviors are those strategies that are pro-active and preventative. If you want cooperative children/students, they need to understand and be able to follow your rules and routines. Meeting this goal will ensure that you have a good learning environment.
Role playing can be an effective way to teach a child with a behavioral disability the appropriate behavior in a given situation.
When traditional behavior plans do not work, parents and teachers may use role playing to teach correct behavior. This can be effective for students who have a behavioral disability, for students who simply do not respond to a behavior plan alone, and perhaps should be used in addition to other efforts to curtail inappropriate behavior.
Role playing should be done during a time when the child is calm, and not as a punishment or immediate reaction to a moment of inappropriate behavior. Start by setting the stage for the behavior, discuss the child’s emotions, and teach the appropriate behavior for the situation.
Set the Stage for Inappropriate Behavior
When you have a child who needs behavior modification through role playing, the first step is to set up a scenario for the child. This scenario should be one that the child either has been put in already, or one that the child is likely to experience in the future. For example: someone takes the child’s turn on the recess field, someone bumps the child in the hall, or someone laughs at the child in front of the class.
Set the stage by telling the child what is happening and where it is happening. Include a triggering event, which would be the action or statement that has in the past or has the potential in the future to elicit inappropriate behavior. These can be true to life examples of things that have happened in the past, or examples of things that may happen in the future. Remember, the idea here is to teach appropriate behaviors, so be sure to use a wide range of examples through multiple role playing sessions.
Discuss the Child’s Emotions
Once the child understands the situation, ask him how it makes him feel. For example: how does it make you feel that your friend took your turn on the playground? Helping the child verbalize his emotions will work towards enabling that child to identify his feelings in the situation and choose a more appropriate response, despite his emotions.
Teach Appropriate Behavior for the Situation
Ask the child how he can respond to the situation. You are looking for several options here. For example, he could walk away, he could start a fight, or he could tell a teacher. Once there are several options for responses, ask the child which option might be the best option given the specific situation. Be sure to use the teaching moment here and make sure the child knows that in some situations, more than one response can be appropriate. Take this time to also discuss why the other responses are inappropriate.
Using the steps outlined above will enable you to break down the specific behaviors that need to be taught, and teach them in an effective way. Be sure to use situations that are appropriate for the child and to discuss the child’s emotions and appropriate behavior for the situation.