A few weeks ago, in one of my (many) Potty-capades posts, I talked about how Baby A was wearing…me…OUT with her shenanigans. She was playing as much as she was peeing, but I was hesitant to discipline her very much for fear of discouraging her potty training.
Lauren posted a comment that really stuck with me.
“Kids play. They don’t have boundaries as to where their play happens.”
How many parenting books have I read…how many expert interviews have I considered on any number of given topics…and in some form or fashion, we are reminded of that very point.
A child’s work is her play. It’s how she learns.
And oh, by the way, children are not simply miniature adults. Treating them as such is not particularly effective, and it will probably result in a lot of frustration for the parent and the kid.
From the girls’ infancy, I put some pretty solid boundaries in place. They have a definitive sleep schedule that I adhere to at almost all costs. They follow a healthy diet with a variety of foods, and I feel strongly about not offering numerous alternatives if they don’t like something I’ve served.
In many ways, my girls know what to expect from me and from their environment, and I think this helps keep their behavior in line, and helps them organize their thoughts for learning [another recurring theme in a lot of those parenting books]…
…but how else can I expect my girls to learn about a NEW situation than through experimentation and play?
They test their boundaries. They figure out what flies and what doesn’t. They push and pull and poke and prod to see how something works, what elicits a reaction.
I’m not saying I’m ready to pull the ladder over to let the girls climb clear to the chandelier, so they can swing from it and learn for themselves about the concept of the pendulum.
I still think there’s a time and a place for play, and there’s another time and a place to mind your manners, like at the dinner table.
But I am saying I’ll try to dig a little deeper into the Well of Patience…to step back a little bit and remember WHY Baby A has to mess with the toilet paper roll every.single.time. she goes to the bathroom.
Soon enough she'll figure it out for herself (and then move on to play with something else)...and that's just part of a healthy, playful childhood.
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