Language is central to the human experience, allowing communication with self and others, and guiding our construction of reality. There is reciprocity between the words we use and the attitudes we hold. Consider the following statements:
“I’m telling the teacher on you”
“I’m getting help from the teacher”
The first statement contains a reference to a social ‘no-no’ amongst children that may stifle help seeking and implies punishment or trouble. Using this statement may lead to the child being labeled a ‘dibber-dobber’ or ‘tail-teller’ and holds stigma of ‘being a baby’ or not being able to cope. In the second statement, the word ‘help’ contains the commonly accepted notion of helping those in need and the social acceptability of seeking help when it is needed. Even adults seek help from friends, or in extreme cases the police, if they are being harassed. When a child approaches a teacher with the words “Excuse me, I need help”, they are more likely to elicit assistance from the teacher than when they say “Johnny’s picking on me” in a whining voice.
While playing games, the leaders carefully choose language that reflects respect, calmness and confidence. Non-judgemental language encourages children to take responsibility for their actions and develop empathy for others. Scripts of adaptive self-talk are also used by leaders to help children learn language patterns that will assist self-monitoring. Vygotsky (1962) observed that children’s self-talk or inner speech seemed to have a self-monitoring function. Scripts are samples of self-talk that children can use when dealing with problems such as anger, frustration or conflict. Scripts allow children to learn and use new word patterns that form the basis of new thought constructs. Teaching scripts to children provides them with ideas and adaptive self-talk to use in future problem-solving situations. Scripts should be simple and positive and reflect concepts such as control and calmness. Following are scipt samples that are presented as examples only and should be altered to fit local award usage:
Oh well, not every one can go first – I’ll be first some other time
It’s hard but I can wait for my turn
Don’t get concerned about it, calm down, it’s not worth getting upset about
What could we do to try to solve this problem?
Further script samples are provided with each game.