Quick Social Game… Swinging in a Blanket
Earlier this week I sent an email titled, “The Trouble with Social Games.”
In it I addressed 3 reasons social games don’t work (at first) for some toddlers with language delays, but I didn’t include one of the main reasons social games don’t work…
We’re not creative enough!
By we, I mean the adult who is working with a child. It could be a parent or a therapist or a grandparent or whoever…
My point is that sometimes social games don’t work because the adult doesn’t understand how to create a routine.
I didn’t either until I read a great book over 20+ years ago called Giggle Time.
In it the author explained how to create a routine that would engage a child’s attention, even if he or she routinely tuned out other people.
Reading that book created a passion in me to not only learn how to play social games, but how to teach parents and (eventually other therapists) to play social games. That’s when (and why!) I wrote Teach Me To Play WITH You.
One of my best takeaways from that little book is to use an object to establish a game with a child.
It can be anything… a hat, a spinning chair, or a blanket.
Here’s one of my best ideas for a social game with a blanket…
SWINGING IN A BLANKET
In this game, a child learns to respond and stay with you for longer and longer periods of time.
Swinging is also an almost guaranteed way to calm a fussy toddler.
How to Play and What to Say:
It will be easier if you have another adult to help you, but if not, you can probably swing atoddler by yourself.
Find a blanket that’s just large enough and sturdy enough to hold your child. If you have a larger blanket, fold it in half.
Most children will automatically want to lie down on the blanket when you put it on the floor. If she doesn’t, help her get down on the blanket. Gather up the ends so that you can swing her.
Build anticipation with your voice as you excitedly say, “Ready…Set…Go!” and then swing the child back and forth several times.
Enthusiastically say, “Swing!” or “Whee! Whee!” while swinging the child. If your child likes to count, then count to ten, and stop with a “crash” to the floor or “throw” them on a couch or bed.
The child should respond by looking at you, smiling, laughing, or even calming down if she’s been fussy. Hopefully, a child will begin to do something to let you know she wants to play again. That’s called initiating, which we’ll discuss in skill #11.
After you’ve played for a while, be sure to pause to see if a child will begin to fill in any words. For example, say, “Ready… Set…” and then wait to see if she will say, “Go.” Some late talkers will surprise you and begin to pop out words. Others won’t. Don’t be too disappointed if it’s not happening yet. Keep trying!
If There’s No Reaction or a Negative Reaction:
If she doesn’t respond after several rounds, or if she doesn’t like it, stop for now, but try swinging again at another time. Toddlers with developmental differences sometimes need lots of repetition and practice before they begin to recognize and enjoy a game.
Swing the child in your arms rather than in a blanket. The security of seeing your face may help her if she was afraid in the blanket.
Change your approach. If you’ve been a little too rough, try a gentler tone of voice and be more physically comforting. If you’ve not been exciting enough, play with more excitement. Remember, you may have to change yourself before you can change the child!
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