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Monday, September 8, 2008

Playing with Your Children

Sharon Wikoff is an advocate for both ends of the spectrum of life…children and elders. Her insights are full of knowledge, experience and compassion. She hosts The family Hour on KGGV 95.1 from Guerneville, CA, which can be heard on the internet through WWW.KGGVFM.ORG

The MAGNIFICENT GIFT behind the simple…Playtime in the LOCAL PARK!

How many times have you gone to the park for a fun relaxed time with your children, and thought of it as just another ‘thing’ to do with the kids? Or perhaps thought, “You really want to go their again?”

During this summer I’ve spent many hours at the Forestville Youth Park, enjoying the swings (YES, I still LOVE to swing!) and walking about under the luscious trees, just hanging out.
It’s been such a joy to watch children there with their parents. I’ve come to realize how very special these moments are between parent and child. Some recent observations of mine have been:

1 - A mom and 5-year-old little girl who is enjoying having her Mom watch her on the equipment.
2 - A father with two young boys, about ten and four years of age. When the children were on the teeter-totter he encouraged the older boy to bounce easily so that the younger child, about 50 pounds lighter, wouldn’t get bounced off.
3 - And the 3rd family I saw was a very buff good looking man, probably about 25 years old with his 2-year-old son, simply observing him as he traveled form place to place. Dad appeared so content and allowed the 2 year old to be very self-directing.

After observing these and others child-parent relationships, I began to see the tremendous GIFTS in such situations.

GIFT ONE: The GIFT of Allowing
When a child is allowed to be free and to do as he/she wishes, that is such a gift! Children need time just “to be!” In today’s world, there are so many demands upon a child’s time that children need that special time daily just to “hang out” and “be.” Magda Gerber, Child therapist, called it: “Wants nothing time.” The parent wants nothing from the child.

This time varies greatly from what Magda calls: “Wants something time.” “We have to go to the store…let’s get in the car.” Or “Please come pick up your toys with me, your room needs to be cleaned up.” Or “Come inside, its dinnertime.” These are all times when the parent “wants something.” After a day of such requests from both parents and teachers, a child needs time and space to play! To be! To enjoy!

GIFT TWO: The GIFT of “Simply Being” for Mom or Dad
The parents I saw were simply “being” in the moment. They were not planning, or teaching or expecting or directing or reprimanding unless there was an issue of safety. In such cases, they responded in the moment without a pre-planned agenda or expectation. They address the need of the moment. This can be a very freeing time for Mom and Dad too! Parents need down time too, very much! They need to relax and just “be.” When parent and child can find the space to do this together, it truly is a gift for both.

GIFT THREE: The GIFT of Self-Confidence
When a child is in an environment where he/she is allowed to choose what they want to do, there is a certain level of confidence that comes from that choosing. This is also a wonderful time for a child to experiment and see what he/she is capable of and what they have a challenge with doing. Infants will spend much time “practicing” a certain move, for example moving from a crawling position to a half sitting position when they are learning to do that movement. They gain confidence in the practicing.

I remember going to the park and sitting on the grass with my 18 month old and allowing her to walk away from the blanket area…and then come back to me. She enjoyed the going and coming so much…and as she gained more confidence she would venture further away. And yet she’s always turn around to make sure I was still there.

So the next time you take time out for a playtime in the park, know that the GIFTS behind such a venture, for both parent and child, are many more than what first meets the eye.

Sharon Ann Wikoff, is an elementary teacher, parent educator and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner. She hosts The Family Hour weekly on KGGV 95.1 Guerneville, which streams on KGGVFM.ORG. She can be reached at (707) 539-0601

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