A Bug And A Wish

Teaching kids how to self-advocate is important in building their independence.

It also helps kids independently solve problems by turning big problems into small problems kids can solve on their own.

For social-emotional learning (SEL) exercises on helping kids identify big vs small problems, check out how to teach kids perspective.

Below, I walk you through how to use a SEL tool called “a bug and a wish” to foster this skill.


These SEL exercises are a resource to help children find words to use when they express their feelings.

This SEL resource can be used during a conversation with a child on hypothetical situations or when a child is in the middle of a real life situation.

First: Set The Stage

Using the script below introduce what a bug and a wish is, when & why to use it, and what may or may not happen as a result.

Second: Role Play Some Social-Emotional Problem Solving Situations

Use the script below to have a child practice self-advocating for themselves. If introducing the bug-and-wish during real-time problem solving, then wait until there’s another quiet time to practice the hypothetical situations.

Finally: Real Life Practice

Sometimes in real life situations, kids get caught up in their feelings and forget the words to use to self-advocate. It’s helpful for them to know that if they self-advocate and it doesn’t work, they should find a trusted adult who can help.

If they come up to you because they were not able to self-advocate successfully, ask them to try it again in the following way:

1) they tap the person on the shoulder nicely to get their attention

2) they say the person’s name.

Also, it is helpful that they practice what they are going to say before they go self-advocate.

After real life practice and guidance, the child’s skills should be strong enough for them to self-advocate without help.

Before the child tries it again assure the child that now that they have practiced it with you, if they try it again making sure to say the person's name and making sure to have their attention and it doesn't work then they can come to you and you will help get the problem solved.

There’s various situations that arise that need an adult’s help. One is that the child forgets that sometimes a bug-and-a-wish results in a compromise rather than “my way or the highway.”

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