Have you ever given your child a simple instruction and you are met with massive amounts of resistance? Or perhaps you are ignored. Maybe they get really angry. Who would have thought that tooth brushing could create so, much, drama!?
Sometimes the tasks that seem really straightforward are the ones we struggle with the most. Getting dressed, face washing, doing homework; the everyday necessary tasks can become a lot easier if we start asking instead of telling.
Go brush your teeth.
What do you need to do so that your teeth feel squeaky clean?
Do your homework.
What’s your plan to get your homework done?
Clean your room.
What did we agree that you need to do after playing with your toys?
How can you speak so that I can hear you?
Don’t forget your jersey.
What should you remember so that you don’t get cold?
Asking questions automatically triggers your child’s brain to begin search for an answer. They are not only practicing problem solving skills and how to take responsibility, but they are also far more compliant because the answers cane from within. They feel included and competent, instead of challenged and resistant.
Watch this video to experience first hand the difference between being asked or told and see which you prefer:
Why do children need to play?
We often think that play is something that kids do for fun, but we don’t always grasp its full purpose. Children, especially young children, have a physical, psychological, emotional and developmental requirement for play. It is as essential to their development as is food and water.
On a neurobiological level, engaging in play activates circuitry known as the PLAY system, identified by renowned neuroscientist, Jaak Panksepp. Studies have shown that activating this system primes the brain for neurogenesis; the growth of new brain cells.
On an emotional level, play helps children learn empathy and kindness. Social skills such as turn taking, sharing and conflict resolution are all facilitated through play. Emotional intelligence and problem solving skills are borne directly from engaging in play.
All this is to say that play is not a wishy-washy waste of time; it is a crucial element of our children’s lives, and should be a part of ours too!
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
This has been a cold, long Winter. Lockdown has no doubt added to the usual sense of hibernation and confinement, essentially encapsulating ourselves in our own bubbles while trying to stay safe and warm.
Spring always seems to bring with it an atmosphere of freedom; a time to let go of the old, embrace the new, and encourage growth. We “spring clean” our homes and this can, of course, be applied to our emotional state as well. As the country reduces COVID-19 restrictions and the smell of jasmine hovers in the air, it feels like the perfect occasion to begin flushing out stagnant feelings of worry and anxiety, and start welcoming hope and joy in abundance.
One of the best ways to do this is to take some time to be outdoors with our children. Children have a marvelous way of slowing us down to stop and (quite literally) smell the roses. Investigate small creatures like ants, or bees collecting nectar. Plant a vegetable garden or admire a blooming blossom. All while letting the noise of everyday life fade away, even if just for a brief moment.
If these activities elicit a feeling of resistance or even dread, it might mean that you need a little extra help resolving some residual uncomfortable feelings. Mental and emotional health is now more important than ever, so it’s important to get assistance when you need it!