Let’s be realistic—most moms or mother figures (including myself) just want to be thought about and appreciated by their kids from time to time. We hope this happens more than once a year, but Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to pamper, love, and show how much you think and care about your mother.
What better way to do that than to step into her shoes and think of the things that she really likes, wants, or would make her feel loved. To get it just right, do a little prep and focus on perspective-taking. Ask yourself what would make her feel appreciated and loved. Would she prefer a day to herself with a book and no expectations of her or maybe a picnic with the family or a day at the beach? Would she appreciate new sportswear, a book or a gift certificate for a massage or pedicure? It requires perspective-taking to imagine what someone else is wishing for.
Perspective-taking is an important tool for our kids to start to develop at a young age. We can help them by encouraging them to gather information about people around them by asking questions, making observations/inferences, and or recalling information they’ve learned in the past. When we spend time with people or are getting to know them, we are constantly storing information about that person in our brain. Michelle Garcia Winner (http://www.socialthinking.com) calls this a “Person File.” She defines these files as stored memories about the various people we meet. These Person Files can consist of another person’s interests, personal beliefs, reactions to emotions, likes, and dislikes, etc. The information we’ve gathered makes it easier to converse about a topic that we know is interesting or meaningful to that person.
Using Person Files helps build connections. For example, if you discover that someone shares your interests in soccer, Harry Potter, and video games, this person is probably a good friend candidate. When we discover that we have things in common with someone and develop a deeper relationship with them, we can then refer to these files as “Friend Files” and continue to store information in them. For example, if you know that your friend played in a big soccer tournament, it would make them feel good if you asked how the tournament went.
Person Files are helpful for family members too, and Mother’s Day is a great time to help a child build their social thinking skills by digging into the file for their mom and making a guess about what would make her day special. If your child is struggling with this, take the opportunity to help them come up with some questions and maybe a time to interview mom to find out more. Questions like “What is your favorite food?” or “What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? help the child learn about mom’s preferences. This information can even be written down and put into an actual file. You can start a binder with dividers of significant people in your child’s life and add to it when they are getting to know new people. Try these apps for making the files super visual: Pic Collage (http://pic-collage.com/) and Strip Designer (http://www.mexircus.com/Strip_Designer/).
More information about Person Files can be found in Michelle Garcia Winner’s books Thinking About You, Thinking About Me and Think Social!