I was the little girl who “wasn’t really a big girl yet”, but also wasn’t a baby. And she was the “little bit” older girl, but really not much older. We were going for a walk and then going to play at the park. The slightly older girl started to push the littler girl around, calling her a baby and whispering in her ear that she was stupid.
I instantly had to stop the game, “where did you learn that!?”. She told me about a time, that an older girl at the park was saying those things and pushing her around. My heart dropped, I had to fight to hold back my tears. Instead of following all my natural instincts I went back into playing, though I just wanted to pick her up and give her 10 million kisses (and then go talk to that girl myself). I figured since she didn’t tell me flat-out, she sorta told me through our play that maybe she didn’t want to talk about it,”flat-out” and then I tried my best to walk her through how to deal with a situation like that – but as the little girl astronaut Barbie, not as a Mom.
Playing with kids is so amazing, listening to my kids play together is life affirming (I don’t know what else to call it) but teaching and explaining social situations and behavior through play – well that’s something else that’s truly amazing all on its own, and something new I learned that day. We try to teach our kids how to deal with bully situations, strangers or tricky/creepy situations, but telling them how to handle a sadly (but hopefully never) possible situation is not the most effective way for them to learn. We usually play role-playing “acting games” in order to teach the kids how to handle themselves in tricky situations, but I think I like this whole playing/teaching/trying not to get all emotional, way better.
Do you teach your kids through play? Do you find that listening to your kids play is a great way to discover things about them?
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