Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Q & A with Lisa :: Mom Wants Child to Play on Her Own


Dear Lisa,

I so hope you can help me figure this out because it's making me crazy.  Seems like every time I try to get some work done around the house, my daughter starts to act up and demands my attention by whining or being clingy. She is four years old. I've been a stay at home mom with her since she was born. I am always here for her. I am feeling so frustrated because I want her to play on her own. Any advice?    ~ Frustrated Mama

Dear Frustrated Mama,

My heart goes out to you because I know first hand how exhausting it can be to listen to a child whine. It wears me down when my children whine. 

However, try adjusting the lens of perspective just a bit to see what might be behind this behavior.

I know that the whine is hard to hear and as adults, our impulse is usually to fix it with a list of suggestions or take on the role of entertainment director.

Yet the underlying cause of the behavior may have more to do with something that ostensibility has nothing to do with the moment.

Let's put on our observation glasses and begin with the big picture, what's going on with this child?

These are the questions I ask myself to figure out what the need might be when my children start to come undone and can't seem to play when I am trying to do something else.

In my head, to myself I quickly go over my checklist:

8 Questions to Ask Yourself When Your Child Whines 

1. Have s/he eaten lately?
Yes, check, it's not hunger.

2. How was his or her sleep?
Good. Check.

3. Are we getting out of doors for enough movement and sunshine in the fresh air every single day: running, jumping, swinging, climbing, digging, balancing kind of play each day, especially in the morning?
Fresh air, sunshine and movement are essential for the health of children and adults too. It is the morning sun that makes for good Vitamin D absorption and sets our melatonin timers to release at the end of day.

4. How is our rhythm? Is there a consistent rhythm and routine to our days? 
Children need plenty of time for self initiated free play. When children have a routine they can count on, they know what comes next and tend to settle into the flow of the day, they relax and feel secure and out of this feeling of security and calm can play more easily. Same routine every day, simple, simple, wake up, dress, eat breakfast, do chores, go outside and play, eat lunch, take a nap, play, have dinner, bath, story, bed… the needs of children are so simple.

5. How's our connection to each other?
Attachment with our children is an ongoing and lifelong process. A child of this age is still developing her attachment capacities and needs regular check ins with mom in the form of eye contact, nods and smiles. Rocking and snuggling help too. When a child feels out of step with her parent, she may whine to let us know. Often some time spent genuinely engaging with a child for a short while, maybe washing dishes together, having a walk, telling a story will "carry" the child through the morning emotionally with connection.

6. How is the play area? 
Is there room to play, free of clutter, without too many toys, and close to you? Are the toys open ended? Again simple and think imitation, whatever you are doing, she'll want to do too, a pot and spoon to stir a few objects from nature for the pot, a little laundry basket, a small table with a few cups and plates.

7. Do she have an example worthy of of imitation to follow? 
Am I feeling joyful in my work, singing or humming and happily engaged? Is there a basket her size to carry the clothes in from the line or dryer, with cloths for her to fold? Does she participate in the work and help hang clothes on the line or toss them into the dryer? (While she may not get it done, or may not do it as you would, let her contribution to the household work be) If I am feeling grumbly, my children know it, often before I do. They absorb our moods.

8. Is regular media exposure part of my child's life?  
While it may seem odd, children tend to have a harder time engaging in self initiated imaginative play when media exposure is part of daily life. The images on the screen overwhelm the brain and make for too much sensory information for the child to fully process. All of the simple and lovely pictures we bring through story, song and the wonder for all of life that children are born with, both get annihilated by screen characters and images.

Help bring him or her into play
Healthy play is vital to healthy childhood and your child may need some guidance and support to find her way into play.

She may need some help stepping into play. The power of example and imitation is great. Set up a little scenario for play, a tea party with Dollie or Teddie, a cloth with a few animals and bits of nature on the floor to make a farm or begin to narrate a little walk in the meadow with figures set up.

If all seems in place above, then it may be that s/he needs more form to his or her day with clear time and directions for working together, "Here you scrub that side of the table, I'll do this side," a clear time for rest after lunch, perhaps after a story, clear time of day to go out and play. This brings us back around to the breathing in and breathing out quality to the day, something we'll take up in the eCourse in October.

::::

If you like this article and find it helpful  and you'd like more, consider signing up for my eCourse When Less is More :: 31 Days to a Calm and More Meaningful Homelife, it begins tomorrow October 1st

Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::  Parenting with Soul :: Waldorf Homeschooling





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