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Shhh, they’re playing

February 9, 2014

I love watching the children in the Kinderyard play. With total abandon they romp, build , imagine and totally forget that I am there.

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Well, unless there is a dispute to mediate. Other than that I am a silent observer, they don’t need much else.

If you were to ask me, and someone recently did, I’d tell you to say Nothing. Silence is golden in childhood, sideline commentary can lead to self-consciousness, anxiety and diminished reliance on experiences.                                                                                                                                No one wants to hear their every move from a color commentator. The beauty of a small child at play is how they live deeply in their imagination, immersed in the doing and being. This is not only healthy but it is a building block for learning.

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Let the children just play without interruption or adult intervention. Be an interested observer.

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“Did you see that? I swung so high into the sky. Look, Mommy, I went upside down”. Yes, they will ask you to comment, and while as an adult we would like feedback with details, and affirmations, children really only need, “Oh yes I saw that”, or “Wow, or that must have been fun.” Yes, it would seem that this is a great opportunity to give positive encouragement and feedback, a teachable moment to bolster their confidence or self-esteem, but not so fast, think of yourself as a supporter, not an interjector. Acknowledge the effort or simply reiterate what your child said, “Oh that was high up in the sky.”

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Over the years, I’ve noted atmospheric changes in the yard at pick up time. The play of some children becomes less free-form and more performance based. A child who previously was unaware of anything but their play and playmates suddenly becomes very focused on verbally detailing to everyone around what they are doing, or asking for attention. The current trends in child rearing have suggested that parents are becoming very verbal often overly encouraging, a running commentary. While some developmentally challenged children may need this, for the average child it is simply too much. The picture that comes to mind is the Shultz, Peanuts comic strip where the adults are represented by “waa waa waa waa waa”.

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Think of your commentary as precious jewels, sprinkle them gingerly and only where needed.

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