Drama for social skills
Think of your favourite story or movie growing up…did you ever imagine what it would be like to be one of the characters in the book or movie? For me, it was always climbing the Magic Faraway Tree, exploring the different lands at the top with Moonface, Silky and Saucepan Man, and then sliding down the slippery dip through the middle of the tree. Or being Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz with those bright red sparkly shoes as she ventured with Toto, Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion to the Emerald City to find the ‘Great and Wonderful Oz’. And once I got into Nancy Drew books…oh the adventures!
Now think about the books, movies, games and real life events that enliven your child’s world. Imagine your child could step into their favourite story with their whole body, mind and imagination. Once in the story, they need to decide on the outcome by experimenting with different ideas and choices. They would need to communicate and negotiate with other characters in the story.
This is what Drama Therapy is all about. It’s about creating and playing out stories, experimenting with different versions and working with others, and learning about yourself. Dramatic Play and Role Play allows children to experiment with eye contact, body language, and tone of voice and get immediate feedback about how others perceive them in a supportive, non-threatening environment in a playful and fun setting so that mistakes don’t feel personal or overwhelming.
Social Skills developed through Dramatic Play include:
Turn Taking and Sharing Skills:
- Sharing and taking turns
- Initiating and sustaining reciprocal back and forth play
- Expressing dislikes appropriately
- Listening and responding to others’ ideas
- Maintaining conversations
- Communicating and observing personal space boundaries
Emotional Awareness and Attunement Skills:
- Recognising nonverbal signs of friendliness, boredom, annoyance, embarrassment etc.
- Learning skills to apologize
- Recognising sarcasm or bragging
- Learning ways to appropriately offer comfort and empathy
- Tolerating mistakes (own and others)
Environmental and Community Awareness:
- Negotiating rules and sticking with them
- Differentiating between real and pretend
- Tolerating transitions between activities
In order to thrive in school, children have to learn more than just academics. There’s a lot of social and emotional skills that children need in order to start conversations, make friends, and generally get along with others. For some children, these skills may not come quite as easily as they do to other people. Drama is built on social interaction and is the perfect way to develop social skills.