Use Your Words

Teaching Young Children to Use Their Words

Teaching young children to "use their words" is a well-known educational tool aimed at increasing kids' communication skills and teaching kids how express their feelings rather than resort to physical means (i.e., hitting, biting, scratching, etc.) to resolve conflicts. All daycare staff should be trained in how and when to encourage children to use their words, and at which ages children need help in finding the right words to express their feelings. Teaching kids to use their words is also a developmental strategy in the realm of "emotional intelligence," or "emotional coaching," wherein parents and caregivers teach kids how to name their emotions and learn to deal with setbacks and change.

Giving Children a Vocabulary of Words

Whether you are teaching kids to use their words to promote peaceful conflict resolution, or whether you are trying to provide children with a vocabulary of "feeling words" to express their emotions through language rather than through problematic behavior (i.e., tantrums, crying, sulking, hitting, biting, kicking, or becoming withdrawn and silent), you can play a vital role in their development by promoting the skill of "using your words."

Teaching Kids Which Words to Use

Preschoolers often don't have the skills necessary to use their words on their own. Not only do they not have experience in solving conflicts, but their language skills are not yet developed, and even kids who have an excellent vocabulary may not know exactly what to say in a certain situation. Furthermore, in the middle of an actual altercation, kids tend to forget what they have learned in theory. As caregivers, you can do a lot to train kids in advance and to serve as a verbal resource and guide during 'real time' situations.

3 Ways To Conflict Resolution

Here is but a small sample of specific "using your words" suggestions you can teach daycare kids to promote conflict resolution:

•- I don't like it when you grab my crayons. I want them back.

•- Can I have a turn on the swings when you're finished?

•- I was here first. I don't like it when you push ahead of me.

Top 9 Words For Emotional Coaching

Here are some examples the types of words you can teach children to increase their "feeling word vocabulary":

•- Happy

•- Frustrated

•- Lonely

•- Sad

•- Embarrassed

•- Mad

•- Relaxed

•- Loved

•- Proud

Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the keys to the success of children being able to use their words is how much practice they have in doing so. Adults should role-play with kids so that they can practice using their words in an array of situations and especially in scenarios where you know they have run into difficulties expressing themselves in the past. Keep the sentences simple, specific, and short, but practice, practice, practice...

Benefits of Teaching Kids to Express Themselves Verbally

Studies indicate that children with high emotional intelligence feel more positive, more in control, and are better equipped to handle their emotions when life throws them a curveball. Kids' ability to express their own emotions also makes them more understanding of others and more sensitive to other people's feelings. They learn to respect others, how to empathize, and ultimately to listen without judging.

When parents and childcare providers teach kids to use their words and speak directly to other children, kids also learn to set personal limits (i.e., "It's my turn now; you can play with the car when I'm finished") and to set these limits in a respectful manner.

Hopefully, the communication skills children learn in daycare settings will serve them well throughout their lives.