If you are a parent, you may think that Bakugan is just another crazy fad and a waste of time and money. However, you can use your son's interest in Bakugan to help him develop important social skills that he will need for his whole life. This article will teach you how.
Things You Will Need* lots of Bakugan * your child * phone
Step 1Teach your son how to make a plan for someone to come over. Plans should include who you will invite, when (time/day), for how long, and what else you will do besides play Bakugan (eat pizza? watch a movie? play at the park? other?) Important things to make sure your child is clear about are: 1. you must ask your own parents first, before you do the inviting, and 2. they may say no, so be prepared to accept and deal with disappointment and 3. the friend may say no, too, so be prepared for that, too. Once these things are all clear and you and your child have a plan, proceed to step two.
Step 2Teach your child polite telephone manners and etiquette, and be sure to let him practice pretend conversations with you first, before he makes the call. Practice several times, so that he can practice how to handle it if the person does not answer (how to leave a voicemail), or is unavailable right now (how to leave a message with a real person), or says that time/day is not good (offer another time/day, say let's reschedule, whatever), says no without giving a reason (say maybe some other time, or something like that), etc, etc. There are many different situations that could occur on the phone, and he needs to be prepared for as many possibilities as possible. Insist that he make the call himself. Using a telephone appropriately is a basic social skill in today's modern world and takes a lot of practice to learn well.
Step 3Practice and review how the scheduled time together is expected to go, before the friend gets there. Will there be a snack first, or later? Will there be outside time at all, or staying indoors? Is this a sleepover or not, or possibly but not decided yet? Are there some extra-special toys that need to be put away during the friend's visit, to avoid fights or breakage? What room will they play in? How much involvement will Mom or Dad have? Will an older teen be involved? How will "time to clean up" be handled? Get as many things as possible clear before the friend arrives.
Step 4Review and discuss behavior expectations from your child, and what will happen if these are not met. Are you willing to call the friend's parent for immediate pick up, if things are not going reasonably well? If you say you are, then be prepared to actually do it, or you will pay for your wimpiness forever.
Step 5Insist that your child be a gracious host, because these skills are only learned through practice until they become habits. These include: greeting the friend as he arrives, AND saying hello to the adult with him, inviting them in, offering a snack or drink, letting the guest choose the game or toy sometimes, staying calm, saying "thank you for coming" when the guest leaves, and "thank you for letting him come" to the parents. These social rituals are important glue for the fabric of society and there are few things more important than helping children learn the specific phrases and behaviors that people use for getting along together in a friendly way.
Step 6Teach your child how to post a sign in the local comic book shop, arcade or similar place where other Bakugan players might see it. This is a good way to meet other boys the same age and form new friendships based on common interests. This is also a good time to start teaching your child about personal safety, as you explain things to him like: put your cell phone number on the sign, not your home phone number or home address, and when you meet a stranger for the first time, you will make plans to do that in a public location, such as the park or McDonald's. Nearly everyone has some need to meet strangers in their adult life, so it is a good idea to help your child start learning this skill from a young age, so that he will fully internalize the concepts relating to personal safety.
Step 7As friendships develop, you can continue to fine tune his social skills from different angles, which may eventually include "how to use email" and "how to go visit someone else at their house" and "how to host a Bakugan birthday party" and other things like that.
Bakugan can be a great resource for teaching many important life skills. Enjoy!