Make the best use of your time

Vickie Jones, N.C. Cooperative Extension
Feb. 08, 2014 @ 06:19 PM

During the inclement days of winter, make the very best use of the extra time you have with your child. This is a great time to use the skills learned during Incredible Years parenting classes. One of the skills taught in class is playing with your child. Everyday, not just snow days, is a good day to spend time in one-on-one play with your child. While playing, you can teach your child social, problem solving and academic skills.

Children need to learn how to get along with others. You can use play to teach your child to share, encouraging them with words of praise such as, “thanks for sharing your toys with me,” or “thanks for letting me take a turn.” Very simple, polite phrases such as these will teach and model how to share and be polite with friends, classmates and others. Praising your child will encourage him or her to continue the behavior. It will also reduce the amount of negative interactions, as you focus more on what your child is doing right. This will help build a “foundation of love” between you and your child.

Teaching problem solving while playing might include the following type of conversations: The parent might say, “I see you are really upset, can you tell me what happened?” The child may respond, “I wanted to play with Jimmy’s truck and he wouldn’t let me.” The parent might then respond, “I can see how that could upset you, what do you think you should you do?” The child would then generate solutions that might include hit Jimmy and take it, play with another toy, ask to take a turn or cry. With each solution, the parent would help the child speak about the advantages and disadvantages of each solution, while guiding him towards an appropriate choice.

Finally, you can teach your child academic skills during play. When he is playing, at least once a day, you should get down on his level and play with him. While playing, you should allow him to lead the play and describe what he is doing. That will let him know he has your attention, while you call the names, colors, shapes, sizes, positions, etc. of the toys he is playing with. You can say, “Wow, look at that tall house you’re building. You used blue blocks for the windows and yellow blocks for the doors.” Or you can say, “The red truck is following the green car and they are going really fast.” Using this type of language, according to Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton, is called descriptive commenting and academic coaching. It lets your child know you are paying attention to him and gives you the opportunity to teach him academic skills.

There are many ways you can make the best use of your time. If you need help learning how to play, or interacting positively with your child, consider joining an Incredible Years parenting class today. F-G-V Smart Start, United Way and local donors provide funding for the classes. If you are a parent, grandparent or caregiver of a child three to five years old, call (252) 438-8188 to enroll in the series, which began Feb. 6, at L.B. Yancey Elementary School. Or visit the Vance County Cooperative Extension Office at 305 Young Street, Henderson, to register. Please join and learn practical, positive ways to interact with your child on snow days and throughout the years to come.

Source: Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton, The Incredible Years, Inc.