Theory of mind involves understanding that people have thoughts and beliefs, that may differ from our own. Understanding other people’s perspectives is essential for communication. When children have difficulty developing their theory of mind, it makes it difficult to understand why people say and do things, tell stories, make friends, and engage in pretend play.
Here are some simple things you can do at home with your child to promote his or her theory of mind.
Role play – when children pretend to be someone else it helps them think about other people’s points of view (e.g. if your child is pretending to be a doctor, you could be the patient. Talk to your child as if he is a doctor, “Doctor, my leg really hurts. Can you help me?”).
Sharing storybooks – discuss what characters might be thinking or feeling, their ideas and reactions (e.g. I think Monkey feels worried because he’s lost his mum).
By helping your child tune in to others, you will build their ability to think about others’ perspectives, and ultimately, this will help them to be a better storyteller, playmate and conversation partner.
(Adapted from Hanen.Org 2017)
Speech Pathology Team