Ideas for Encouraging Interdependence in your Elementary Child1

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Examples of Guiding Language

  • The most important aspect of guiding language is explaining the child’s feelings so they have language to explain how they feel in the future. “I see you’re sad.” “I see you’re angry.”
  • Never force a child to say he is sorry. Explain how he has caused hurt and tell him to ask the injured/upset child what he/she needs to feel better. If they will not ask, then you ask. You can then assist the child in doing what the injured/upset child has asked.
  • Remember to talk through a situation, and don’t ask why. Ask “Did something happen?” or say “Tell me more.” Why is not a question they can answer.
  • Make limits and rules clear and consistent. When there is a problem, refer to the rules as the reason they should not have done something. This way there is no blaming on either side.
  • Say things like:
    • Would you help me with … ?
    • How can we … ?
    • What do you think?
    • How can we make this feel fair for everyone?
    • How do you think…feels?
    • What can we do to help…feel better?

Remember, during this time your child may:

  • Pay less attention to their appearance.
  • Have unpredictable manners.
  • Like to be away from home or develop an attitude of detachment.
  • Begins “tattling.”
  • Become more extroverted.
  • Play games that seem strange to us including secret language, passwords, and other rituals.
  • Question you about everything, including your own inconsistencies.
  • Express their opinions in ways that seem impertinent or rude. Continue coaching!
  • Want to learn about many topics, but not in great detail.

Ways to Model and Encourage Interdependence

  • Hold the door for those behind you.
  • Offer to let someone go first.
  • Offer to take your neighbor’s dog for a walk.
  • Invite someone new over.
  • Volunteer to be a tutor or mentor at school.
  • Give someone a compliment every day.
  • Make a treat to send to a senior center.
  • Write a thank you note to a teacher, firefighter, coach, or mentor.
  • Say good morning to the teacher, principal, and other students.
  • Call grandparents and other special family members you don’t see often.
  • Encourage them to be friendly to a new student.
  • Make a card and send it to a friend for no reason.
  • Give a huge tip or compliment to a waiter.
  • Have a “normal” conversation with a homeless person.
  • Give another driver your parking spot.
  • Help and elderly neighbor carry the trash out.
  • Buy an inspirational book for a friend.
  • Smile a lot!

1Summarized from information provided by the Making Caring Common Project.

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