Play is the natural language of children. Next time you find yourself struggling with your child, turn to play for the answer. For your child, play is familiar, play is non-threatening, and most of all play is fun. Welcome back to part 2 of a 3-part series on how to turn everyday struggles into playful and meaningful experiences.
Many children and parents struggle with points of transition. A transition is when you must move or change from one position or state to another. For example, changing from playtime to putting on shoes to leave the house is a transition. Having consistent daily routines and structure, along with advance preparation that a transition will occur, greatly assist children to have a positive behavioral response. However, this is not always easy or enough. So, what then… look to playful parenting. Make up a song, chant, rhyme, or rhythmic beat.
Making up a song is an effective intervention to add to your playful parenting toolbox. It is also one way to turn the everyday struggle of transitions into a playful and connected experience with your child. If you ever observe a preschool classroom you will notice that the teacher has a song or rhyme for just about everything; cleaning up, start of circle time, end of circle time, washing hands, lining up, and the list could go on. Why? Because children love music, it draws them in, and it simply works. The sing-song rhythms help children to regulate their bodies and focus their attention.
Here are four of my favorite transition struggles turned into playful experiences through song.
1) Bath Time: Our family’s song was: “Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Bath Time” to the tune of Batman. Don’t be afraid to continue singing fun and silly songs with your child once in the bath to keep things moving along positively.
2) Saying goodbye to someone or something: “Good-Bye Daddy, Good-Bye Daddy, Good -Bye Daddy it’s time to say Goodbye.” You can also sing good-bye playground or whatever object the child is having a tough time detaching from.
3) Hand-Washing: This is a chant I learned from my own children’s amazing preschool teachers. Chant the words: “tops, bottoms, in-between, make your hands all nice and clean.”
4) Putting on shoes: To the tune of “Gray Squirrel” sing: “Shoes on, shoes on, it’s time to get your shoes. Shoes on, shoes on, it’s time to get your shoes. Grab your socks and your shoes, you know just what to do. Shoes on, shoes on, it’s time to get your shoes.” You can change the words to meet your needs as well. You can also try this slight variation: “Shoes on, shoes on, it’s time to go to school. Shoes on, shoes on, it’s time to go to school. Grab your coat and your shoes, you know just what to do. shoes on, shoes on, it’s time to go to school.”
You don’t have to be a great singer. Just have fun, be a little bit silly, and repeat. You can do an internet search and find lots of children’s transition songs out there. You can also make up your own on the fly. Start with a simple or popular nursery song and change the words to whatever comes to mind. If your child is in pre-school I would suggest learning some of the transition songs used in the classroom and apply them at home as well.
Remember, when feeling stressed with a child’s behavior it is easy to become over-focused on the discipline and forget about nurture or even fun. Adding play and songs to your toolbox of parenting strategies will shape your child’s behaviors, decrease your stress, and bring more joy to your family. At Kid Matters Counseling we have Registered Play Therapists ready to help you find more joy in your children and reshape behaviors through playful interactions.
Child Therapist | LCPC, RPT
Parenting a child with emotional and behavioral needs can be overwhelming. I respect the courage it takes to engage in counseling. I strive to provide treatment that honors your values and traditions and help you connect with your child on a deeper level.
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Disclaimer: These writings should be considered a matter of personal opinion. They do not reflect professional advice. This medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and intimacy required to provide professional advice. If you are in need of consultation, I highly recommend you seek professional counseling. If at all possible, you should seek a reliable referral from a trusted source.
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