Huh? She sells seashells down by the seashore? Rubber baby buggy bumper? Nah. It’s a daily writing challenge from BlogHer. I’ll take the daily writing prompts and add a special education slant.
What one toy do kids want? The one toy that another kid has. And one of the worst things a socially challenged kid can do is try to stake out a toy when it’s not actually in his or her hands. I’ll explain that. First, a socially challenged kid usually has a negative balance in his social bank account. Other kids may be looking for a way to bug him because of previous social run-ins. Our kid probably has difficulty sharing toys or classroom materials. So now the teacher puts a sparkling sheet of stickers on the table. Or a new toy on the shelf. Maybe a parent or babysitter displays the new game. What’s the first thing our challenged kid does? Call out loudly, “I want that!” What’s the first thing a sibling or rival does? Grabs the toy.
This is basic human nature. Advertisers count on our tendency to want what we can’t have. Ever hear ads that talk about “limited quantities?” and “While supplies last?” We also want the newest, latest thing. Commercials exploit our desire to have the exclusive item, the new phone or gadget.
In social skills groups, I have taught kids to avoid verbally claiming items and/or physically snatching what they want. Higher functioning kids can evaluate their social landscape to see if they are surrounded by kids who are likely to squabble. They may enjoy practicing panther-like movements to approach what they want. Next, all kids need to talk to themselves about flexibility with the desirable toy. They must be willing to wait for a turn and react calmly if they don’t get it first. If possible, they can move safely to the toy and start playing. Then, if the item is something that can be used by a group, they must be willing to relinquish solitary use unless an adult mediates the situation. Basically, kids must learn to avoid drawing attention to the desirable toy and to be flexible. Memorizing self talk can help: “It’s OK. Maybe later.”
It’s hardest to teach this lesson to siblings, who have a built-in radar for panther movements and usually want to grab the first turn. You can work on teaching this but if you are tired, consider buying TWO (or prerequisite number) of desirable toys. Then you can leave this instruction to the special ed teacher, who is never tired. Haha.