Thursday, August 23, 2012

Time Warnings

I use time limits all the time with my little one: "5 minutes left before it's time to clean up" and then I give a 1 minute warning after that.  Kids need to know what is expected and what comes next.  And adults do too.  Imagine what you would think if you were watching your favorite TV show and all of a sudden your partner came up and turned the TV off right in the middle!  And for a toddler, can we say temper tantrum?

So I try really hard to give time limits so my child can transition from one activity to the next.  As a play therapist, we do this in every play therapy session, as it also helps children develop trust and knowing that what the therapist says will happen.

But lately with my newborn at home, I find myself now saying things like, "just a second" to my child.  And I'm sure she's learning that a 'second' is not really a second, it's more like 10 minutes!  Like when I have to change the baby's diaper and my child wants me to put a dress on her doll.  I'm trying really hard to work on not saying that so she can learn that when mommy says "just a minute" she really means it.  Plus I want her to trust me and learn limits.  I don't want my child to ask me for something and then tell her just a minute and have her jumping all over the room and starting a temper tantrum because she has learned that mommy doesn't mean what she says.  Hard habit to break, but I'm working on it.

And one other time trick my husband and I have started using is counting down.  So after I give my 1 minute warning and she still doesn't want to transition to what we've asked, we start saying, "10, 9, 8, 7..." and she thinks it funny but by the time we get to 1, she actually does what we ask!  Okay, so it may not work every time, but for the most part it has.  And when it doesn't then we have to stick to our word and turn off the TV, or clean up her toys, or whatever we ask, because that is a whole other issue, not following through on limits we set. Hard but so well worth it in the long run :)
Friday, August 17, 2012

Favorite Play Therapy Toy


There are a lot of toys we use in play therapy and a lot of favorites, but recently I've noticed how much of a hit the Doctor Kit has been (and with my daughter at home too). This week during my play therapy group session, the girls were basically fighting over using the Doctor Kit. It has been one of their favorite toys to use in session and they love taking turns using it on me. By the end of group, I have had 35 shots, 10 blood pressure readings and my heart listened to oh, maybe 15 times :) It has always been a huge favorite in play therapy sessions since I've been a therapist!

Fisher-Price Medical Kit on Amazon for 12.79$

And this past Christmas, I had bought my daughter one in pink: Fisher Price Medical Kit Pink  Isn't it cute?

My child LOVES this kit and has played with it almost every day since she got it.  She loves using the 'boom boom' to listen to my heartbeat, and loves looking in my eyes and ears.  She also uses it on her dolls and stuffed animals and it's so cute to watch!  The thermometer shows happy or sad faces, so it teaches feelings too as an extra bonus.

So why do children love this so much and what do we use it for in play therapy?  Well in our therapy sessions, we don't analyze each and every toy, but we look for themes.  Because a doctor kit is sometimes just a doctor kit.  But usually it can be a theme of 'nurturing' or 'control'.  Especially for those kids who have no control in their lives, it helps them gain some sort of power and control in the session by using it on me or another object in the room.

And it's great for dramatic (pretend) play.  All kids have been to the doctor, and it helps them recreate the interactions they have had there, or even the hospital or ER.  I know my child loves to use it on me and pretend she is her new favorite TV show character, Doc McStuffins!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Self Esteem Beginnings

My two-year old daughter has definitely hit the 2's:  Temper tantrums, HIGHLY active and loves saying 'No!' and 'Miiiiine!'

And then today as we were playing, she said, "mommy, help!" and handed me her crayons to color, I realized she has also hit the age where I need to start increasing her self-esteem.

From birth, my child was needing me to do everything for her.  But now I can see she is at an age where she can start doing things on her own.  I know she can hold her own crayons and color, so when she asks me to help her, I realize she is capable of doing it by herself.

I am so used to jumping in to do things for her, because let's face it, as adults we are quicker at getting our kids dressed, fed, and any other tasks.  But I need to start letting her do these things as slow as she might be, because she needs to learn to do them and say more often, "all by myself mommy!"

When working with children in play therapy, I always follow the child's lead.  If they want me to dress up as Batman during play, I put on the cape.  If they want to use the doctor kit on me, then I brace myself for my eyes to be examined and heart listened to by the stethoscope.  By them leading the play, it empowers them.

BUT, when they ask me to do something for them and use the words ' I can't', I turn it around and say something like: "I hear you saying you don't think you can do something, but I would like to see you try, and then if you still need some help, you can let me know what we need to do together to get it done."  Or something like that, depending on the child's age.

Outside of the play therapy room, I always ask my clients (and now my own child) to 'show me' and have them do something they need help with.  So today I turned to my little girl and said, "I want to see you try" and pointed to her crayons.  And she did it!  When she hands me the bib, I turn to her and tell her, "let me see you try to put it on."  And amazingly she does it! Wow, I wish I had started this yesterday.

The best way to start increasing self-esteem is to give small tasks that your child can accomplish, and then reward them with words of praise, "yay, you did it all by yourself!!"  A great example is to ask your 2 year old to hand you their dish, or to throw away their own trash.  And picking up toys at the end of the day is another good task.  They may not be able to pick them all up, but give them one specific toy to put away, and when they do, reward them.

As they get older, you can give them bigger tasks such as emptying the lower rack of the dish washer.  Or folding a few clothes items, or feeding the dogs.

Empowering them is the best way to increase their self esteem and show them that even though we still see them as our little babes, they are growing up and we need to let them do these small tasks on their own.  As I've said on my blog countless times before, I want my child to learn to be independent, and able to take care of herself when I am not there at her side as she gets older.  Self esteem is huge and something that as parents, we can help foster and grow :)
Saturday, August 4, 2012

Don't Rush It

Dear my precious little daughters,

Please do not grow up too fast, I want to capture every day and every moment as slowly as possible.  You are growing up right before my eyes!

Sorry to disappoint you readers but I don't have any good mommy wisdom, advice or tips today.  Just a blog post to vent about how quickly babies grow.  Maybe that's why I waited awhile to have kids, because I knew how fast that cute childhood innocence stage goes by and I just didn't want to start it too soon just to have it end even sooner.

I have been so lucky to stay home with my baby girls and super thankful to my husband for that.  While my first born is still only 2 years and 2 months old, I am now realizing how she is no longer super dependent on me and is becoming her own person.  It's super cute, but also hard as I realized very soon that she will be too old for the 'mommy and me' classes.  She will soon be taking her first ballet and tap classes where she, gasps, goes alone!

I want my children to grow and become independent and strong, but it's just hard to sometimes let that baby phase go.

Soon they will be spending the night at friend's homes, going off to 5 days a week school, and camps.  Then the next thing you know they will be driving and off to college. Okay, one day at a time, I know.

I try not to be too overprotective, but working as a child counselor, you hear stories of things that you don't wish on any child, let alone your own.  Things from just kids being mean to abuse issues.  And me working once a week as a sexual abuse counselor for young girl victims does not help.  It makes me not want to ever let my child spend the night at someone's house or go off to camp.

So please, give me the courage to let me child grow and have strength when she gets to the age where school girls can be mean and feelings can get hurt and I can't protect her.  Help me get through the age where they start to drive and I stay up late worrying about them.  Please help my children know what to do when they encounter drugs, drinking and driving, and everything boy related.  That they will survive the struggles of high school and go off to college.  That they will get through college, find happiness and marry someone they love and start the next generation of babies.  Okay, I am getting ahead of myself I know.  Maybe I should take my own advice and take 'baby steps' and focus on raising an independent toddler, so she will be able to survive in this crazy world and be able to make smart decisions without me there.  Hmm, great idea for my next post??