I see? my child sees?

Monday, March 28, 2011

A follow up on children and imagination –is it a ‘spaceman helmet’?

In turning one thing into another we need to remember two key things:

Children’s minds don’t work as logically as ours. They are learning, experimenting and creating all the time.  Their minds are imagination machines and we need to follow their lead, if this is to continue.

So if you want to bring out their imagination get them to come up with a name for ‘whatever’ you want to present to them. Call things funny names, make things “silly”, funny or fun, kids respond to this and if in doubt add the word “special”.

In exploring my children’s imagination, I have seen many things are different. Their interpretation, meaning and reality can be a little different to what I see...

What do I see? A shower cap, what does a child see? A “special spaceman” helmet.

What do I see? Mud and mess, what does a child see? Cakes and fun.

What do I see? A stick, what do they see? A gun, a knife, an arrow, a telescope, a sword, a bat.

What do I see? A dirty old carpet, what do they see? Materials for a tent or pretend campsite.

What do I see? Leaves and grass, what does a child see? Soup and softfall to tumble or roll on.

What do I see? Pouring rain, what do they see? Splashing and fun, the excitement of exploring the ‘safety and shelter’ that an umbrella provides and (for some) the sound of rain falling on an umbrella.

My child’s imagination is only limited by my imagination. I am able to control their imagination by what I say, I could end their creative journey by saying, "that’s not real", "please keep quiet, I’m trying to think" or I can explore with my child and say, “yes, and?......”, “ what do you think would happen if?”
Enjoy living in their world for a few minutes.. what do your children see?

Shower or not to shower?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My 3 yo loves the water, he plays in the bath for an hour if I let him and he also enjoys showering with his brothers – that was until three weeks ago.  After three nights of him crying, “burning eyes”, “eyes burning” he finally decided no more showers. It became the 20 minute tantrum time, he would run around the house avoiding us before we would finally be able to carry him kicking and screaming to the shower.

It only took me 7 days to realise that his burning eyes may have been caused by sun tan lotion, that he had applied at preschool which runs into his eyes at shower time... and I thought he was just trying to get out of washing his hair?

I may not have been quick to solve what the cause was... perhaps clouded by my judgement of the situation. I was a lot quicker with finding a solution though and this was my creative way of getting him back in to the shower.

I know most children love a game or a surprise, using this knowledge I came home armed with my “showertime” solution. At shower time, I told him I had bought him a surprise that he can use in the shower or the bath. Most children enjoy the concept of a surprise and if it is a tangible item they love it even more. I pulled the surprise out of it’s packaging and revealed a ($2 clear showercap) I did not tell him that.  He believed me when I told him it’s a "special spaceman helmet". It helps that he is 3yo and his imagination still allows him to see things differently. I explained that this “special spaceman helmet” could be worn in the shower and it would stop his hair from getting wet and water going into his eyes. We tried it on and tentatively he got into the shower.

It had been a while since I saw him so willing to go into a shower. Also, within a few minutes he was taking it off to explore and catch water in it. All that shower time he had forgotten about why he did not want to shower in the first place because soap or water would run over his face. He used it a few more nights after that but now mostly takes it in for fun.

What has saved the day for you or your child lately? Is there a creative way to solve a dilemma at your house? Have you got a creative solution to share?

What’s the word...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It starts with “T” and makes parents want to pull their hair out with frustration and desperation and it’s a phase of a child’s physical development...

Toilet training, tantrums, terrible two or terrible threes, the word I was thinking of was teething – yes teething, does anyone remember that phase?

It was terrible, the crying, the night waking, the runny nose or number twos that accompanied that phase. We forget as parents... every stage we are at with our children brings with it a different phase or set of behaviour but it goes away eventually...hopefully....

So this is the lovely thing about parenting. Parenting can mean we have these things in common with other parents ie. teething or sleepless nights with our babies, then separation anxiety and tantrums with our toddlers, homework struggles with our primary children. The list of commonalities and common experiences goes on and on through each stage of our child’s development and life.

I loved doing this week’s word challenge on Parent with Potential’s Facebook page. It demonstrated an important thing for me that phases are just that, they are phases and each phase of our child’s development is marked with new behaviour, new struggles and new successes.

It demonstrated to me that we lose track of what parent's experience. As we move on from one phase of development to the next our parenting needs change and so we also forget what “it” (that phase when) was like because thankfully it was a phase and that phase gets replaced with another. Sometimes we look back and think what was I complaining about, teething or toilet training was nothing like what I am going through with my child now.... Let us not forget and let us empathise with those experiencing difficulties in the present moment whatever your challenge may be.

Why then do we sometimes feel alone? Do you still feel alone even with the computer age and parent forums etc? What is your challenge at the moment? And if you have passed a phase someone else is going through remember try not to say "oh, it's just a phase" unless that really helped when you were going through it?

Another way to learn....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I walked into the kitchen after working on the computer. I had left my 3yo to have some "independent" play time. I got a familiar smell on the way there and realised as I turned the corner he had enjoyed every minute of his 'free play'... spreading baby powder over the floor. I also realised there was a broom next to the powder bottle. I was finding it difficult to make out if the broom was there because he tried to clean up on his own or if it was used to spread the powder further . The broom did both those jobs!

I wasn’t angry, afterall it’s only powder and I had got done what I needed to on the computer with no interruptions. So I said the normal, “what a mess”, he replied, “I want to go to M’s house” calmly again I said “ we can’t go to M’s house until all this is cleaned, here is the vacuum”. As diligently as he made the mess he was now cleaning it and I made sure I swept some crumbs for him to vacuum up too. It was a lesson to me that not all discipline needs to be punishment sometimes cleaning up after yourself is an important lesson and a consequence in itself.

So here are a couple of tips to teach your child independence and self control:

  • Give your child the benefit of the doubt at least once: On this occasion I chose to look at the broom in the room as a tool for cleaning and not as an instrument for making the mess. So this changed my mood almost immediately.
  • A bargaining tool helps: In this case he wanted something that I was happy to give him anyway since my friend is M’s mum.
I had two choices shout at him and make him sit in a corner while I tidy up the mess.  This would have led to crying on his part, more screaming and some possible wrestling to get him to stay in the corner... and who knows where from there....

My second choice was to use his bargaining tool and my positive view (that he may have tried to clean this up himself hence the broom) to explain that he needs to use a vacuum to clean up the mess.

On this occasion option two worked and I learnt that cleaning up may be an appropriate discipline technique.

Have you ever surprised yourself and reacted differently to how you normally would? What was that like? How did your child respond?

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