Toys Should Be Selected

follow site One of the first rules Play Therapists learn is that “toys should be selected, not collected”. I’m super anal about where I take my kids to play because I find toys to fall into two categories: beneficial or detrimental. Yes, a toy can hinder development and learning just as much (if not more) than help it!

watch Toys should be carefully selected!

rencontres brangues Avoid:

  • Electronics
  • Battery operated
  • Cause/Effect
  • Toxic (lead paint, stinky plastic, foams)
  • Games/Puzzles

Choose toys made from natural materials that allow for limitless possibilities! The child should play WITH the toy, the toy should never play FOR the child. Sidenote: The adult should never play FOR the child either. It is not the parents, grandparent, or teachers job to entertain the child. Play is about processing emotions, creativity, imagination, self-expression, and learning about the world and self.

http://www.shyamtelecom.com/?siterko=trading-binario-app-demo&eb0=a0 Role Play:

  • Costumes
  • Pretend food or recycled containers
  • Workbench
  • Kitchen
  • Dollhouse
  • Barns
  • Shopping carts
  • Rags, buckets, window scrapers
  • Garden tools, wheelbarrow

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  • Pipecleaners
  • Cla, play-doh
  • Crayons, markers, paints
  • Paper, tissue paper
  • Packing peanuts, bubble wrap
  • Pom poms
  • Kinetic sand
  • Water beads
  • Beads, string, yarn
  • Paintbrushes, easels
  • Chalk
  • Fabric, felt
  • Spray bottles

http://ev-kirche-ergste.de/?debilews=dating-app-kostenlos-android&9c3=76 Miniatures:

  • Gnomes, fairies
  • Insects, bugs, snakes
  • Animals
  • Cars, trucks, planes
  • Trees, flowers, wood slices, grass, moss
  • Dolls
  • Gems, rocks, marbles, stones
  • Furniture

see url Building:

  • Blocks
  • Nesting toys
  • Stackers
  • Squigz
  • Magnetiles
  • Qubes
  • Lincoln logs
  • Legos

what's it like dating a marine Calming:

  • Teepees, forts, tents
  • Pillows, blankets
  • chairs or futons
  • Rugs
  • Lava lamps, shakers

If you find yourself wondering what a toy “does”, then it’s probably a good toy because a toy should never “do” anything. The child does something with the toy instead. I love the garden section at Hobby Lobby and I love parusing antique stores and Goodwills for “junk” I have no idea what it actually is! I also search for Waldorf toys online via Amazon or Fat Brain Toys and my favorite brands are Janod, Kid-O, Melissa & Doug, Tegu, & Grimms! Remember that the less toys a child has, the more they play, so keep things to a minimum and very well organized. An overwhelming playroom doesn’t spark imagination, it can be over stimulating and cause a child to shut down. Happy playing!

source Stay gold, 

enter That Girl

Empathy is Key

As an educator, I have the privilege of visiting child cares and preschools around my city. They all fall into a category of sorts to define their program and they all think they’re doing the best they can for young children. Whether they’re play based or curriculum focused, nature vs. nurture, or Waldorf vs Montessori, the key ingredient to a successful early childhood program is…

EMPATHY

I visited a school recently that really focuses on teaching independence. They have a few guidelines for their staff including not picking the children up, not doing things FOR them, and allowing them to explore “free range”. In fact, there’s an entire movement encouraging free play called “free range kids”. This school hits the mark on that. One thing I observed though is a lack of empathy. Empathy is the foundation for learning. By ignoring it, we may subsequently teach the opposite of our intent.

For example, I saw a child trip and fall over a step. No one rushed to the childs aid, which may rub some adults wrong; however, the child wasn’t hurt and is capable of picking oneself up. The child laid there for a moment processing what had occurred and looking around confused. Then she got up and went to the table to eat.

What did the child learn? Likely nothing other than when you fall, get up. That’s not a bad message, but it can be enhanced further by an adult guide. Something like, “I noticed you fell and you felt surprised. I saw you catch yourself with your elbows. You’re able to care for yourself”. With that statement I empathized, identified her feeling, and told her she’s strong and capable. Another helpful approach could be, “This time you fell, but you’ll have other chances to succeed”. That sends the message that failure is not the end and provides opportunities for learning.

Another moment I observed was a child wanting to be held who missed his parent. Having just come back after a vacation, he’s likely having trouble adjusting to being independent again and was seeking love. The best way to feel love is to give love. His teacher wasn’t picking him up and even stated that he was being clingy and needy, which isn’t like him. He was an age he could understand these words, even though he was too young to say them, so I intervened and modeled for her a more effective approach. I used an empathic statement, “When I want to be held, I find something to hold. Let’s go together and find something to love”. Then, I took the child’s hand and led him towards some toys in the sand and encouraged him to find something to nurture and love.

Empathy is also vital when setting limits. The ACT Limt Setting method starts with A for “Acknowledge” the feeling. Rather than shout an order at a young children or simply state a rule, start with empathy so that learning is enhanced and the info will be absorbed. When a child is rushing out to eat their lunch, nearly knocking over friends, it’s in our nature to shout, “No, it’s not time. Slow down!” However, a much more powerful approach is ACT limit setting.

rencontre femmes algerie Acknowledge the feeling: “I know you’re hungry and anxious to eat’.

http://qsai.es/?esfirew=rencontres-seniors-04&2af=43 Communcate the limit: “But it’s not time to eat yet”.

Target alternatives: “You may wait here patiently or you can be held”.

The choices are strategic and key as well. Having the child wait patiently is of course the goal, but if he doesn’t, the second choice of being held is a great option because it’s the adult’s nature to grab the child if he’s about to knock other chidren over. Then, a powr struggle may begin because chilren don’t like to be controlled. If the child said he chooses to be held it’s a win win.

Whether you are a parent, an educator, program director, or therapist, EMPATHY is crucial to building relationships with young children and guiding them towards their highest potential. Children need to feel understood, valued, respected, and acknowledged. Free play will backfire if the children don’t feel seen, just like structured content won’t be absorbed if they child can’t relate to the material. In play therapy, we practice the mantra, “I hear you, I see you, I understand, I care”. When one of these four is missing, the work being done with that child is pointless.

Empathy is the foundation of successful work with young children.

Stay gold, 

That Girl

 

Random Shit to Entertain Baby

It’s a little known fact that the less toys a child has, the more they play. Now, I won’t lie to you and say my boys have nothing but a cardboard box and some crayons. In fact, they have a whole playroom; however, they’re also toddlers. When they were babies, I kept things minimal on purpose!

Babies don’t need toys. Babies need freedom to explore.

The infant brain is has more neurons that stars in the galaxy! These neurons need to excited, or used, otherwise they die off. When a baby is given a toy that does the same thing repeatedly, we’re limiting the brains capability and allowing the “use it or lose it” phenomenon to lessen our babies potential. So, avoid gimmicky battery operated toys, definitely avoid screen time, and instead provide rich sensory experiences with a bunch of random crap!

Materials to keep on hand for babies:

  • clothespins
  • craft poms
  • ribbons
  • ziplock bags
  • cardboard
  • egg cartons
  • cans
  • spoons
  • pots, pans
  • strainer
  • pipe cleaners
  • pasta
  • stones
  • finger paint
  • playing cards
  • muffin tins
  • sand/cornmeal
  • sponges
  • pillow cases
  • empty water bottles
  • mirrors
  • beans
  • waterbeads
  • parachute
  • bubble wrap
  • duct tape
  • food coloring

There’s probably more I could add to this list, but my brain is fried. Did I mention I have toddlers now? LOL

Besides reading stories, singing songs, wrestling, and baby dance parties get creative with these materials. Allow baby to explore them with no “point” in mind. Set the stones out with a pot and see what baby does. Perhaps they’ll have fun moving stones from a pot to a pan. Maybe they choose to throw them into the pot and laugh at the noise, or maybe they’ll bang the pot like a drum.

Set playing cards out next to a toaster or ziploc bag.

Put beans into an old sock for a sensory toy.

Use the clotespins with craft poms to make paint brushes and let baby “paint” with water onto a cardboard box.

Stuff things into a pillow case and let them dig them out.

Throw poms, bottle caps (supervised), beans, and stones into the muffin tins.

The sky is the limit with these materials and that’s the point! Let baby explore their world, and their abilities, creatively without rules or judgement. My boys are two now and will play with just about anything and I marvel at their creativity! They’ve never required “toys” to stay busy and explore. They create fun with whatever is around!

Sty gold!

That Girl

 

The “Rules” of Play

The rules of play are simple. There are no rules for the child. There are, however, rules for the adults. Adults can either hinder, or help, play be what it is intended to be. Play, by definition, is intrinsically motivated, self-directed, and natural. “Play is a child’s natural language and the toys are their words, ” Garry Landreth (The Art of the Relationship, 2001.) Play is not only how children communicate, but it is how that express themselves, process experiences, and make sense of the world around them. 

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These “rules” are what we Play Therapists live by.

Disclaimer: Although these are the rules Play Therapists follow in the playroom with clients, following these rules does not make you a Play Therapist. Sixty-one graduate hours and several thousand clinical hours under direct supervision have taught me to use these guidelines in a very specific way to form a therapeutic relationship with my clients and create an environment for positive change to occur in the child’s perception of self, the world, and circumstances.

That being said, parents can apply these same rules if they’d like to encourage a more active imagination, independent play, and allow more learning to take place naturally through play.

Rule #1: Allow the child to lead.

Play is natural for children. They do not need an adult to intervene and show them how to play by moving objects, making sounds, or deciding what happens next. Child directed play is best. This is why toys with batteries or electricity actually work against play. Imagine being a child playing in what looks like a kitchen and placing something on the stove and the stove responds, “Yummy. I like spaghetti!” But, you weren’t cooking spaghetti. In fact, you were pretending to be a mad scientist concocting a potion to kill aliens from the planet Zonkatron. Or, the adult in the room intervenes and says something idiotic like, “Oh, are you making something special for me?” This not only pulls the child out of the fantasy, anchoring them to reality, but also changes the motivation of the play to serving the interest of the parent and pleasing the parent, not the child.

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Rule #2: Play is not a time for education.

Learning takes place naturally during play. The infant/toddler brain is maze of channels, twists, turns, and roadways, but if not all of the passageways get engaged often, “roadblocks” go up. Parts of the brain actually die off and get pruned away if not activated. Just the same, parts that are engaged often become stronger. Do your best to fight the urge to teach the child colors, numbers, shapes, and sounds. Quizzing the child on what they know is also not appropriate during play. Things like, “What’s the horsey say?”, have no business in play. Learning letters, numbers, and so forth will happen in due time, in the classroom, or while you’re out and about as a family and talking about things you see.

Rule #3: Don’t ask questions you know the answer to.

I see adults break this rule ALL the time. They walk up to a child holding a ball and say something like, “Are you holding a ball?” or, a child slams a car into another car and screams, “Boom! They just crashed!” and the adult says, “Uh oh, did they crash?” Asking questions like this can make the child feel misunderstood (and make the adult look stupid). Remember, play is about expressing one sef so if there’s enough information for a question, there’s enough for a statement. Instead, try, “Whoa, they crashed hard. I heard the boom”. The child feels seen, heard, and understood.

Rule #4: Grant in fantasy what you can’t grant in reality.

This is a big one! Children’s play is not always an indicator of their deepest, darkest secrets, nor is it predictive of future actions. The child who plays “good guy, bad guy” and has the two beating each other up isn’t necessarily going to be aggressive or violent as they grow up. Just the same, the child who plays army and blows up the whole town isn’t necessarily going to make bombs in their garage and blow up their school as a teen either. Children use play to explore different sides of their personalities, try out various behaviors and actions, and sometimes something like blowing up a town in their play makes them feel powerful and strong n a day when they may have felt weak and misunderstood. Children may also use play to give alternate endings to real life experiences, but they don’t need to be reprimanded for pretending they punched Aunt Helga in the face for that smelly kiss. It’s pretend and it’s natural and therapeutic.

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Rule #5: Don’t label things the child hasn’t labeled.

To the adult it’s a stick, but to the child it may be a sword, a hammer, a magic wand, a syringe, a whip, a light saber, lipstick, a cane, Cruella Deville’s cigarette, a plane, or something that’s never even been invented. Don’t assume you know what the child is pretending, or that they even want you to know, by interfering and giving their object a name. If you’re wrong (which you probably will be), you’ll pull them from the fantasy into reality and distract from the process.

Rule #6: Don’t set limits until limits need to be set.

The average two year old hears the word, “No” over seventy-five percent of the day. From their, it just continues with “don’t touch that”, “don’t put that there”, “don’t do that”, “stop that” and on and on. Play should be a time in the child’s day where rules don’t exist until there’s really a problem. A child shouldn’t pick up a doll, walk to the pretend kitchen and hear, “Remember not to dump the food all over the place and be sure you don’t get her wet this time”. I roll my eyes and shake my head at this parent. I just want to scream, “Why not?! Who the eff cares if the plastic doll gets wet?” Play should be freeing, unlimited, cathathartic…so only set limits when there’s danger or the possibility of irreversible damage to something.

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There are many more I won’t get into, but these are my favorite of the basics.

So, as a parent, what can we do? Let them play! Let them lead! Let them decide how objects are used, where they go, how they move, who gets to be what and say what. Let the child explore, imagine, be creative, be destructive, and be expressive. Respect play for what it is, don’t try to change it, and recognize it’s value in your child’s development metally, emotionally, socially, and even physically. Children need play free of adult interaction, intervention, and direction.

Stay gold,

That Girl

The Case Against Toys

My mother texted me last week and asked me about a couple of gifts she was thinking about for my twins for Christmas (she shops early). I googled the items she was referring to and read about the products. When I read the words “teaches your child,” “educational,” and “your child will learn,” I knew the toys were not for us. Ironically, the toys that “teach” your child actually counteract learning and stunt development. Shocker, right?

I refuse to have toys in my home that teach my children.

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I texted my mom back and reminded her that I don’t allow toys that have batteries or electricity. In fact, I dont have toys in my home that “do” things. A toy that does for a child robs them of the opportunity to do. The play becomes limited by what the toy has been programmed to do. It does not require imagination, problem solving, creativity, exploration, or observation. It is entertaining the child, which is not what play is about. It’s not about entertainment or distraction.

Play is a child’s natural language. It is how they make sense of their world, how they communicate, how they express feelings, and how they process their experiemces. Play by definition is intrinsically motivated, therefore a toy that gives the same response each time a button is pushed, or a lever is pulled, trains the child to seek extrinsic reward, rather than introinsic. So, once again, play is negatively affected.

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As a Play Therapist I always felt saddened by the child who would come into the playroom filled with open-ended toys, pick up a toy and try to press a button. They’d search desperately for an off/on switch, something to push, pull, turn on somehow before finally looking at me and exclaiming, “It’s broken” or “What does it do?” This child has been programmed for toys to  do the work for him and he no longer knows how to play.

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Toys do not need names either. A toy that comes with a name, or a label, pulls the child from fantasy and anchors them to reality. This is not a good thing. I don’t want my children growing up thinking a stick is just a stick and a box is just a box. The possibilities for items like this should be endless to a child’s imagination. I once put a whisk on the play tray of my five month old son’s walker and my stepson said, “Why did you give him a whisk?” I told him it’s not a whisk to the baby, it could be anything the baby wants it to be. He looked at me like I’d lost my mind and said, “But what else could it be?” Again, how sad. This child has lost the ability to imagine.

So…what do they play with?

  • ribbons
  • tin foil
  • bubble wrap, corks, sponges
  • spatulas, whisks, ladels, egg beaters
  • Measuring cups
  • salad spinners, drainers, muffin tins
  • egg cartons, boxes
  • bags
  • blocks
  • balls
  • cars, trains, planes (wooden toys)
  • books
  • crayons, shaving cream, play doh
  • musical toys, wooden toys
  • blankets
  • bubbles
  • swings, slides, ladders, jungle gyms
  • hula hoops, jump ropes
  • figurines

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If you buy your children pop up tents how will they learn to build forts? If you buy them the bubble machine how will they learn to blow bubbles? If you buy hot wheels track you’re limiting how far and which direction the cars can go? Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did not grow up using iPads and tech toys…they grew up playing with what was around them and as a result they learned how to think and they became creators.

So, my children will not watch TV. They will not have ipads. They will not use smart phones until age appropriate and they will not play with toys that need batteries or need to be plugged in. They will learn to be resourceful, creative, and imaginative to play and to make sense of the world around them.

Stay gold,

That Girl

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Why I Do What I Do

People are often curious about why I do “so many things”. They wonder, “What’s the connection?” or “Why do you own a baby biz if you’re a counselor?” and my favorite, “What exactly do you do?”

The truth is, all the roles I fill are related. 

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When I was a sophomore in college I remember meeting with my guidance counselor and telling her I wanted to work with kids in the hospital as a counselor, but also take care of babies and maybe own my own center one day where I can support parents. Her response? “Whoa, slow down, you can’t do it all.”

“Ummm….yes I can. My mom said so!”

So, I do it all. When I started as a “counselor in hospitals”, I was actually considered a Child Life Specialist. I provided distraction during medical procedures, medical & trauma play, emotional support, diagnosis education, and developmental support for children in the hospital. I have worked in the ER, PICU, day surgery, and NICU, but spent most of my time on the oncology unit (pediatric cancer). While on this unit I learned alot about the correlation between the products we use at home, the clothing and toys kids use, and the things in our environment with childhood cancer. They’re inextricably linked! In fact, childhood cancer has risen more than 25% in the last decade. What do you think is responsible? Watching those kids suffer made me interested in learning more about environmental toxins, but also I started being more cautious about what I used myself, and what I would allow my children to be exposed to in the future.

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My time working in hospitals include ALOT of time educating and supporting parents, including discipline support. From there I started offering parenting classes and workshops around the city. I noticed many of the families I worked wih were coming to me with children who already had a history of behavioral issues and poor habits and I wanted to help parents avoid these issues by getting to them earlier. In fact, my interest in infant development, postnatal care, and prenatal care grew stronger because I felt if I could help parents develop their skills that early, then perhaps there wouldn’t be as many concerns later on. I wanted parents to learn how to provide the best care for their children from the very, very beginning.

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Then, as parents began asking me for recommendations for products that were healthy for their children (i.e. didn’t have the chemicals that would later lead to nuerological and behavioral issues) I realized I was sending parents to 10-12 different websites for nontoxic, innovative products so I thought, “Why not have all these products in one place?” ShopWholeHeart.com was born!

ShopWholeHeart-products

Even though I was working with expectant moms, newborns, and parents of older children, I couldn’t ignore the fact that there were still children out there whose needs went beyond that of love & logic, setting limits, or positive discipline. There were still children who needed a therapeutic relationship and loving guidance for processing challenging life experiences. That’s why I continue to see clients as a Counselor and Play Therapist.

So, you see? All of my various roles are connected. There actually is a method to my madness!

The Connection:

Healthy prenatal care and support leads to a healthy baby. A loving fourth trimester (0-3m) combined with healthy sleep habits leads to rested, loving, happy, attentive parents. This leads to happy toddlerhoood where limits are set with love as a result of a strong parent-child relationship. This leads to a well adjusted child throughout childhood, which means, less children in need of long-term counseling. Uh oh, am I working myself out of a job? LOL

ThatGirl, ShopWholeHeart