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  • Kait Towner, LMHC, RPT, CCPT, IMH-E

A Playful Way to Teach Assertive Communication in Child Therapy

Many children come to therapy in order to work on their communication skills. Most children that therapists work with that are labeled as aggressive or passive communicators. The goal is to help kids become more assertive in their communication style in order to get their point across in an appropriate manner. This post will go over a fun and playful child therapy intervention to help children learn assertive communication through one of my favorite things ever: Miniatures!!



Sandtray Miniatures to use in sandtray therapy and play therapy with children
Sandtray Miniatures

By “miniatures,” I mean little characters or animals that are generally used for sandtray therapy. I find my miniatures to be an asset in my play therapy practice and used in almost every single play therapy session I have! I have worked very hard to create my miniature collection over the years and highly recommend going to a dollar store or local thrift store to obtain miniatures. I have also had success using the website www.toysofthetrade.com.

I like to start the intervention by explaining the different forms of communication to the child. I explain that aggressive communication can come across as rude and demanding. I compare aggressive communication to a bulldozer in that aggressive communicators tend to plow over others’ thoughts.

I then go into passive communication. I state that passive communicators tend to not let their opinions be known and can be “walked all over” by other communicators.

The last form of communication that I explain is assertive communication. I tell my kiddos that assertive communication is the “happy medium” between aggressive and passive communication. Assertive communication is when the communicator expresses their thoughts or feelings in an appropriate manner.

At this point, it can also be helpful for the child to reflect on their own form of communication.

Next, introduce the activity. State to the child that they will be picking out a miniature that reminds them of each form of communication. I generally have my miniatures all set up for this activity so that my kiddos can really compare and contrast the miniatures when making their decision.

First, have the child pick out a miniature to represent aggressive communication. Ask the child what made them pick out that miniature. Inquire what about the miniature reminded the child of aggressive communication.

Then, move on to passive communication. Explore the child’s reasoning for picking that particular miniature and what made them think of passive communication.

Finally, have the child choose a miniature to represent assertive communication. Just like aggressive and passive communication, ask the kiddo why they picked the miniature and what reminded them of assertive communication.

This intervention has been a hit for me in both individual and group therapy. I hope it helps you in teaching your child or clients about assertive communication!

Think your child may benefit from learning more about communication skills by working with a child therapist? Contact me at (585) 206-1506 or kaittownerlmhc@gmail.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute phone consultation!