It’s your first day on a new job. The workers are tossing around jargon that is completely indecipherable to you - they might as well be communicating via dog whistle (and sadly, you’re not a dog… although you feel like one). You don’t have a functioning computer yet - “the people in IT are working on it”… except you suspect the company doesn’t have an IT department. Also the people in HR refused to re-take your ID photo… so you’re now presenting yourself to your colleagues as the newbie with the crazy windblown hairdo.
Everyone’s had this kind of experience.
Things are new and strange, you don’t know the rules… and Murphy’s law is pretty much knocking you silly.
But we’re adults so we usually figure stuff out.
Like us, very young children typically learn about social expectations, interactions and the rules of whichever road they happen to be occupying at the time primarily by example - they watch everyone around them and they usually figure stuff out. But they don’t have the years of experience that we have at this exercise. And when they’re really young, they’re constantly bombarded with new situations, people, expectations… everyday is their first day on a new job.
Stories can really help.
Reading books and doing related kinds of activities with your child can be an effective and fun way to introduce them to different kinds of feelings, social interactions and expectations. Finding the right books, sharing them and talking about them will help you connect with your child and promote their social and emotional growth. Check out the wide range of great children’s books here and here - they cover topics from happy and sad feelings to self-confidence to bullying to family relationships and empathy. Sharing stories and books is a safe, non-threatening way to help your child learn about their ever-expanding social and emotional world of “new jobs.”
And besides the already-written books, there are “scripted stories.”
Scripted stories are stories that you write to help your child learn about specific kinds of situations or feelings that they may need preparation for or help in processing - a vacation in a new place, another relative who’s coming to live with you, rules like no jumping off the bunk beds. And yes, you did hear us right - we did say “stories that you write”! Compiling scripted stories is actually really easy and more than a little fun. Check out this guide and samples and you’ll be surprised at what a fine children’s author you are!
The very best thing about scripted stories is that you can really tailor them to your particular child. You can include references from your own lives and particular situations. In fact, the success of scripted stories really depends on your willingness to closely observe your child and to take on their perspective in the story. The more accurately you can write the story from your child’s point of view, the more relevant it will be for them. So while scripted stories can help you prepare your child for some social and emotional “first day’s,” you may also find that the experience of writing them helps you learn a lot more about your child’s personality… which is probably your very favorite story of all.