Shauna Tominey, Associate Research Scientist - Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
Wonderful suggestions, Abbie! I wanted to add a few additional ideas that might be helpful.
First, you mention that you are not familiar with the social-emotional curriculum that your child's school is using. It might be helpful to ask your child's teacher if he or she has any information about it to share. Some programs have parent flyers, handouts, or even videos. Additionally, you could request a parent-teacher conference to learn more about the approach your child's school is using to promote pro-social behaviors so that you can use the same words or read the same books to reinforce these lessons with your daughter at home.
You also mentioned that your daughter is an only child. Abbie made some terrific suggestions for finding social opportunities (e.g., attending playgroups) where your child can practice these skills. You can also practice these skills together at home through role-plays using yourselves as different characters, dolls, action figures, stuffed animals, or puppets. For instance, you can play pretend school and act out different scenarios that might arise (e.g., one child who is new at school and needs to be taught the school rules; a friend who is having trouble taking turns or who grabs toys from other children without asking). With each of these scenarios, you can talk with your daughter about how the character feels (e.g., frustrated that she wants a turn playing with the toy) and what the character can do (e.g., Say, "May I have a turn?"). Through these scenarios, your daughter will practice problem solving by coming up with ideas for how the characters might respond and have an opportunity to practice the words you would like her to say.
Words to practice during role-plays might include:
- "Want to play with me?" (inviting a friend to play)
- "Can you help me?" (Asking a teacher or friend for help)
- "Can I please have a turn next?" (turn-taking/sharing)
- "I'm sorry. Are you okay? Can I help you feel better?" (making amends)
- "I don't like it when ___" (expressing feelings and needs appropriately using words)
- "Please" and "Thank you"
You can also model this language yourself in your daily interactions with your child as another way of reinforcing these behaviors.