Sunday, May 22, 2011

Level The Playing Field

Last weekend my children and I played pirates in the backyard.  We used the swing set as a pirate ship and the sandbox to bury the treasure.  We had foam swords and talked with accents using our best pirate language.  We all had a great time and then all took a nice nap. 
I used this opportunity to join in my children’s imaginary world and teach them how to interact with each other and play together safely.  It’s amazing what we can teach children through play and the skills they can gain just having fun.    
While at work, recently, I found myself playing a role as a construction worker. I wore a yellow construction hat and a vest that was quite small, all in an effort to play with a child.  We were focused on building a bridge with large foam blocks to transport a load of heavy items across a river.  This helped him increase his muscle strength, learn new ways to play in an environment, increase his tolerance of new clothing.  Despite his intolerance, he was willing to dress up because I did.
So often we interact with our children on an adult level, telling them what we want them to do or asking them to try something.  Sometimes that works, and we all like it when it’s that easy!  Other times, it’s a little more difficult and it takes more persuasion.  Here are some ways to make those times a little easier.
Many times all it takes is a little “show and tell” to get the job done. 
Show.  Show your child an example.  Perform your hand washing with the Sponge Bob soap at the bathroom sink and then let them join in.
Tell.    Tell them about the fun you’re having, how much you like it.

Other times you have to get down on their level.  This allows them to have improved eye contact with you and makes them feel like you are not only interested in what they have to say, but that you’re also now a part of their world.  You get to show them that things are fun, aren’t scary, or even how to play in certain situations.  Mirroring is a great technique your children already use to learn from you.  Just take full advantage of it with things you want them to do!
Change your position:
Squat down.
Sit in the little kid’s chair. (Be safe)
Go into the play house.
Climb on the playground equipment at the park.
Sit in the sandbox
Get on the swing beside them  or put them on your lap
Slide down the slide with them
Eat at the little table

Arts and craft
Meal time
Bath time
Dressing activities
Outdoor play- playground, sports, games.
Sensory play
Bed time

You may have to play dress up or act a little silly.  But you and your child will be having fun and learning at the same time!  

Brandon Scott, COTA/L, LMBT

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