Today, let’s talk about one of our top symptoms.
Rashawn (age 2) is watching Ratatouille (unwillingly because it is not about a truck). He glances at the screen and says, “oh no, the mouse is very sad” as Remy hangs his head and walks from the restaurant.
Rashawn is showing perspective taking.
“Perspective taking allows a child to understand some of what another child is experiencing. Even very young children in preschool are capable of perspective taking. They see a peer or younger child upset and want to help.”
When we think about the progression of social skills, it can feel very complex. Perspective taking is just one skill in a sequence of many.
What to Do??
Read on to learn what perspective taking looks like in kids of different ages. We’ve got tips and tricks for teens, children, and young kids.
Teenagers: Gullible or Over-perceiving the Negative
A teenager with poor perspective taking can run the risk of being vulnerable to the ill-intentions of others. In this case, the teenager needs to have savvy peers he or she can trust to check in with for confirmation.
A client of one author reported that he would ask a few trusted friends “Does Sarah like me, or is she making fun of me when she does that at lunch?” His parents really could not help in every situation, but his closest friends were helpful. The teenager was subject to being used or manipulated without this support.
As a freshman, he let the junior girls eat his fries and chips at every lunch. He loaned lunch money to those who asked and passed out chewing gum after school. He realized with the help of others, that most of the girls he was hanging out with were taking advantage of his kindness. When it came time for football games, dances and parties, they did not include him.
Another risk for teenagers with poor perspective taking is that they will think the worst of others and not see the peers who are kind, or who are trying to help.
As a parent if you can make sure your child has at least one or two genuine friends, you will find that he or she has more success. Kids do not have to be the most popular, but a couple close peers make a world of difference.
Children: Tend to be Concrete
For children, teach them what is common knowledge and what information they need to provide to others. Some of this information seems obvious to a parent, but your child with poor perspective taking needs this spelled out concretely. Practice these skills with your child.
Children with autism tend to be very concrete and respond best to facts and information. A child who develops these skills early will have fewer problems as a teenager.
Young Ones: Engage and Connect
For the young child who studies details and figures out how things work, a parent needs to try even harder to join with and engage this child. Take an interest in the same books, appliances and technology devices and explore them with your child. Model things and praise your child for asking for help. Point things out that are of interest, join with your child and share enjoyment with him or her whenever possible.
ABA Therapy, Social Groups and Psychotherapy: For young children, Applied Behavior Analytic (ABA) therapy can be invaluable. A child’s brain can change to be more aware of others. A child can learn to attend to and respond to others in the environment. As children get older, social skills groups and psychotherapy can also help extensively with perspective taking. It is an important skill to learn when we have social success in mind.
Find more in-depth information about Perspective Taking here.
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