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All about Parenting Toddlers, Issue #028 - Reassurance: An Important Part of Parenting
August 25, 2004

Shaping the life of your precious ones

All about Parenting Toddlers
Issue #028
25th August 2004

Welcome to another issue of All about Parenting Toddlers .

In This Issue:

1. Reassurance: An Important Part of Parenting
2. Learning through play
3. Latest updates on Parenting Toddlers

S&S School Supplies

Reassurance: An Important Part of Parenting
by June Solnit Sale, Kit Kollenberg, and Ellen Melinkoff

You know about instilling values, teaching respect, understanding consequences and other mainstays of being a parent. But did you ever stop to think that a major aspect of parenting is simply reassuring your child?

From Birth Onward
Reassurance permeates all areas of parenting and begins very early. You reassure your baby that the world is safe with cuddling and soft words. When your toddler enters a new, strange childcare environment, you reassure her that she will enjoy being there and that she will be safe. And most importantly, you reassure her that you will return. Reassurance continues throughout childhood: when you move to a new town, when your child starts the next grade, tries out for a team, begins ballet or piano or algebra.

How Much? What Kind?
Your role as a parent is to reassure your child that: she can do it, she will be safe, and she might enjoy it. How much reassurance a child needs depends on their particular temperament. Some parents may see reassurance as babying or spoiling a child. Not if it's honest. A child may need reassurance before going to a friend's birthday party. Listening to her concerns, you'll be clued into how to phrase your encouragement. Is she worried that she won't know anyone? Or that someone special will or won't be there? Or is she the type who simply doesn't like the unknown? Your reassurance can help her find the strength to tackle new things: "Give it a try. It's true some birthday parties are more fun than others, but nothing good happens if you don't try. And even if it isn't great, you can learn from it." Different children prefer different kinds of reassurance. Some need words. You can't tell them enough that they will be okay. That the shot will only hurt for a moment. Other children find more comfort in physical closeness, and too much talking can be distracting to them. A wise parent takes the time to find the method of expression that works for their child, NOT the one that works for them. A parent may need a very different comforting style than a child does. Remember that a lot of reassurance lies just in your being there. Your presence reassures your child that it is, or will be, okay.

Keeping It in Check
Reassuring can go overboard. It can be dishonest, insincere, or promise more than you can deliver. Children have radar that picks up on this kind of phoniness. If you can't find an approach that rings true, better not say anything. Often, talking about a similar experience you had at her age and how you learned from it (or at least survived!) can be helpful, as well as recalling her previous successes. Part of a positive reassurance is a reasonable expectation that a child will succeed. It may or may not be reasonable to assure your child that she will score a goal in her soccer game. Instead, reassure her that she can do her best, or help her team.

Life Goes On
The underlying theme of reassurance is that a child will survive, that there is life afterward. She can get through the dentist appointment; it's only a few minutes. The party will be over by 4 p.m. and you'll be there to pick her up. Life goes on. With sincere reassurance, parents can encourage children to try new or scary things.

June Solnit Sale, Kit Kollenberg, and Ellen Melinkoff are the former editors of the UCLA Working Parents Newsletter and the authors of The Working Parents Handbook.


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Learning through play

Children learn many things through play. They learn to take on the role of leaders, followers and observers. They learn to negotiate and take on more responsibilities. The things they learn at play cannot be taught by the adults in their lives. Children learn by doing and playing. They learn to invent and reinvent by trial and error in their play activities.

At play, they apply what they have learned and find ways to extend their knowledge or skills to the next level of understanding. Children are active in their learning. They cannot wait passively for adults to fill them with information. When they play, they generate ideas of their own and become their own teachers.

Children learn to pick up elaborate details about relationships and how people interact when they play with one another. During play, they find out what really matters to other people and to themselves.

In play, children learn self-control. They can be spontaneous and follow their heart. But they must also restrain themselves from taking over or hurting their friends. They learn to delay gratification when they realise that it is more fun to share a turn with a friend. “You go first.” “I will follow you.” Or “What shall we do next?” are part of learning to follow before they become a leader.

Here are some ways to facilitate your child’s play sessions:
•Create a safe environment for play. Prepare enough toys and space for children to play together. Young children do not share very well. They tend to fight over toys or when they bump into one another once too often. Childproof the place where children play. You do not have to worry about safety in a place well-prepared for children to give free rein to their imagination.

•Provide playmates that are similar in development and age. Children tend to play well with those who are at their own level.

•Teach your child how to cope with play problems. If the other children refuse to let your child play, give her some ideas to help her join in. I once told my little girl that she could be the house guest who brought lots of gifts for the family when she was told that she could not be a member of the “family” in the box house. I helped her make some pretend gifts and she gave them away.

•Allow more time for children to explore and discover new things. The role of the adult is to ensure the safety of the children and to respond appropriately to their needs. It is not your role to teach or take over playtime so that the children can learn something useful. The younger the child, the more time you need to allow him to learn through play. Children can do with the occasional support from parents. You can ask a question or two but stay away from turning the play session into a teaching class.

•Help your child learn negotiation skills during play. You can become your child’s co-player and demonstrate how you share in taking turns and expressing your opinions. If you do not prepare your child with some play skills before group play, he may end up biting or hitting his playmates when he cannot have his way. Show him how to take control and how to give in to others.

•Encourage cooperation rather than competition in children’s play. Young children learn to cooperate with one another when adults offer them support. Compliment the child’s effort in sharing or waiting for his turn instead of snatching the toy. Another effective way is to listen to your child talk about his feelings. Children who are listened to tend to express themselves better in play situations. They work out their problems amicably instead of using aggression. Their playmates trust them.

•Help your child find the right words. In play, those who can speak well and understand what others are saying tend to take on leadership roles. As they are good leaders, they are also good followers. They are popular with other children. Their language competence can help them sustain and extend their social play. If your child needs help with his language development, you may want to seek professional help as early as possible.

Save on Back to School Kits for your child

Latest updates on Parenting Toddlers

The Parenting Toddlers website is constantly being updated with more information.

Below are the latest additions :

A wide variety of free coloring pages for children.
Complement any lesson plans especially for teachers and home schoolers.

Choosing a good baby sitter tips

Resources of free reading worksheets for you to download or read online

Remember to check back often for more updates on parenting toddlers.

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See you in the next issue. :-)

All the best,

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