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  • Writer's pictureAlison McDonald

Theory of Mind

Building Theory of Mind Through Books

This month our Communication Corner focuses on ‘Theory of Mind’. In a nutshell, this means being able to tune-in to other people and understand that their thoughts, ideas and beliefs can be different to ours. This is a very important realisation for all our Little People. This knowledge affects our ability to have a conversation, understand why people do and say the things they do, tell a story, take turns and even make friends. This week, you can help your child develop their theory of mind by talking about characters in books. When you’re reading, take time to ask your child questions about what they think the characters may be thinking and feeling, ask why the characters are making the choices and decisions they do. Share your own ideas and opinions and enjoy some precious conversation time together.

Building Theory of Mind Through Role Play

Theory of mind, the knowledge that someone else has a different perspective, thoughts and ideas to our own, is crucial for building relationships. We can help our Little People take on the perspective of others by playing games together. Learning to role-play puts ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We must step beyond ourselves and start thinking like they would. This week, get involved in some “Let’s pretend” games with your child. Join in her games and become the voice of a Shopkins character, or take the role of a dinosaur. This is a great week to set up a shop in the lounge room using all your empty boxes. Take turns being the shop keeper and the customer. You can role play just about any routine in your child’s life, swapping roles between you. Try setting up a classroom or café, or eat your afternoon snacks in the jungle or in outer-space. It’s going to be a fun week!

Building Theory of Mind Through Words – Part 1.

Remember Theory of Mind is all about understanding that others can think differently to us. It is essential that our Little People begin to understand that their way of thinking is not the only way. This week, focus on developing your child’s theory of mind through conversations. Ask for their thoughts and opinions on all sorts of topics. It could be as simple as ‘what do you think we should have for dinner?’, to more thought provoking topics such as ‘What would happen if…”. Once your child has had the chance to respond, use some key words to help them tune-in to your thoughts e.g. “I think…, I want…, I like… I know….I believe…, My idea ….” These words will help your child see that you have different ideas, likes, wants and thoughts. It’s a great way to develop respectful understanding of different opinions. Have fun chatting together!

Building Theory of Mind Through Words – Part 2

Theory of Mind is important for helping your child understand the emotions and thoughts of others. It is vital for building friendships. One way we can help our Little People develop Theory of Mind is by talking about the emotions of people around them. Have a conversation about the reasons why someone may act or behave the way they do. Discuss how someones actions can affect the feelings of those around them. For example, you could say “I feel disappointed when…”, “I understand that you feel..”, “I don’t think your sister likes it when..”, “I believe you..” or “He doesn’t like it when…”. Beginning to understand that there are many different points of view is important in later life for engaging in respectful discussions and building healthy relationships. Don’t lose sight of the fact that what we teach our children today is helping them move forward into their future.

Written by Alison Speech Pathologist Newcastle Speech Pathology

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