How to use puppets for emotional & social skills

Updated April 17, 2017

Encourage a child's emotional and social growth with the help of puppets; it is a simple and indirect way to motivate and inspire a child's maturing behaviour. Since children are extremely fond of both puppets and storytelling, this is an effective method for you to teach, as well as communicate with a child on his level.

Create a repertoire of puppet characters. With each hand puppet that you acquire, attach to it a name, a personality and a storyline using different real-life scenarios. This way, each time you introduce a puppet to help teach, motivate or inspire, the child you are working with will become familiar with each individual puppet character. You might keep a few puppets on hand for the child to give names and storylines to.

Talk about real-life scenarios and solutions. Puppet play can help children open up and talk about their thoughts, worries and everyday problems. By putting your puppets into real-life scenarios similar to the child you are working with, it may encourage that child to consider her own situation. For example, if you know a child who is having a tough time letting go of his mother when she drops him off at day care in the morning, you could introduce him to a puppet from your repertoire. Through the simple art of storytelling, the puppet could express that it has the same emotional anxieties of letting go of its mom. This is a great tactic to begin a conversation with a child, and it allows the child to openly express his feelings.

Promote social skills. Just as your puppets are able to promote emotional development, they are also effective in helping children to develop social skills. If you have two children who are struggling to get along or fighting over a toy, you could introduce two of your puppets, creating a scenario where the two of them are struggling in the same way as the two children. Encourage the children to help the puppets find solutions to their problems. This is a great learning tool used for building social and problem-solving skills.

Encourage children to tell stories through puppet play. Offer a child the opportunity to tell stories of her own with your puppets. This is a great chance for a child to build upon many skills, including social, motor, language and even creativity. Not only does it encourage her to find her voice, but it also allows her own ideas, thoughts, worries and imagination to shine through in a safe and secure manner.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand puppets
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About the Author

Natalie June Reilly began writing professionally in 2000 for the "Arizona Republic" and most recently with "Phoenix Woman Magazine" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul." She has a background in corporate communications and publishing. Reilly is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Arizona State University.