This week we started a parenting group at Olivia’s school. It’s a group that meets for 2 hours every Wednesday for 12 weeks. This service is provided free of charge by the Children’s Trust and led by The University of Miami’s Families First Network and is open to parents of children 1-3 years old.
The goal of these 12 weeks is to discuss different parenting techniques, to help us have healthy relationships with our children so that we can help them reach their full potential and also to share experiences with other members of the group.
At the beginning of the first session we introduced ourselves and gave a brief description of either our child or the reason we were attending. Most parents were first time parents and shared that they were parents to a strong-willed child and were attending because they wanted to move away from the way their parents brought them up.
Many were wanting to avoid corporal punishment in light of new studies and also wanting to move away from yelling but often felt there was no other resort. When it was my turn, I too said I was a parent to a strong-willed child and that I was looking forward to learning about practical methods with tangible results. How can we bring up an obstinate child without feeling like we are constantly ruling with an iron fist??
The topic for this week was : Child-directed play promotes positive relationships.
It was really useful for me to discuss child-directed play. One of the most important ways to connect with our children is through play. Often as we try to take the lead during play time we forget that we are not the protagonist, they are, we hinder them by asking them to build up and not sideways, or to do it this way and not that way. Child-directed play is just that, your child leading you through a wonderful journey into their imaginative and colorful world.
Have you ever caught yourself asking them 1000 questions while you’re playing as if you are preparing them to take the SAT’s? What color is that block? Or what shape is that figure? I’m guilty, and it’s really annoying, can you imagine being quizzed when you’re simply trying to enjoy your morning coffee? If you really want to reinforce colors/shapes and other lessons you feel they should know, we can simply tell them the color/shape of the object as we hand it to them. “Johnny boy, do you want to use this yellow triangle to build your fort”. Simply by stating the color and shape they are learning.
Our role is to provide a safe space while we let children do what they do best, play!
As they play, we not only bond with our children but we can also model for them right behavior.