“Play and Stay”
What’s your best strategy for parents for working with kids who don’t play with toys.
Here it is and honestly, it’s the only thing that really works!
Encourage parents to “play and stay” with a toddler until toys are mastered.
Your main strategies for teaching a child to play with early toys are modeling how to play with a toy and then providing plenty of opportunities for guided teaching and practice.
Parents of late talkers who don’t play with toys need reminders to do both – to play with a child, showing him exactly what to do with a toy, and then to stay with a child long enough to assist and support him as he learns through trial and error.
It may sound a little harsh, but I often tell parents on my caseload, “Your child is not able to learn to play with toys on his own. If that were true, I wouldn’t even be here. We have to do things differently now or nothing will change.” Soften this message as needed for parents who may be offended or hurt by the bluntness, but sometimes brutal honesty is the only thing that launches new behaviors and priorities.
Therapists should plan to help parents overcome any initial (or lingering!) reluctance to play with and stay with a toddler who needs help learning to play with toys. Make very specific recommendations to address these issues.
I believe that parents should spend lots of time face-to-face, down on the floor with a toddler who doesn’t know how to play with toys. Adults with physical limitations can certainly play with toys with a child at a table or in another comfortable location, like playing together on a bed, but whenever possible, we should get down there where little kids naturally play. When parents complain about being too old, or too tired, or too fat to get on the floor, I offer a cheerful, “Me too! But we have to figure out a way to do this. It’s not going to happen until we make it happen!”
Sometimes parents don’t want to play because they don’t understand the connection between playing with toys and teaching a child to talk. They don’t recognize that learning about the world comes first so that a child will have something to talk about! The explanations provided in Let’s Talk About Talking will hopefully make this information easier to share. Get your copy now before it’s out of stock!
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