Joshua Terhune, who is a child therapist, as well as a husband and a father, makes sure he plays with his kids for a minimum of 15 minutes a day.
A child's growth is heavily dependent on not just nature but also nurture. The kind of environment a child grows up in and the way they interact with it influences how they think, feel and behave. Child therapist Joshua Terhune - who goes by @kintsugi_counseling_ on Instagram - makes sure he plays with his kids for a minimum of 15 minutes a day. He is a husband and a father and his job as a therapist entails helping families connect and communicate.
He suggests five things that are a big 'no' or things we shouldn't do while engaging in playtime with children. It involves asking questions curiously, not judging or interfering with the child's thought process. The suggestions aim to target things we usually imply to children that limit and hamper their way of playing and also aim to facilitate healthy and maximal growth and exploration. It was based on him asking children seven questions, including "How do they feel loved by their parents?" Kids don't always want a big vacation or a big toy. They feel loved when their parents play and spend quality time with selective attention to them.
"Here are five things I don't do while playing with my kids and why I don't do them," he begins by saying while also addressing his interview to Good Morning America. The first thing he doesn't do is "ask questions that take kids out of the moment." It often distracts them from their play and focuses more on the parent's uncertainties related to what they want to do. Children can feel like they are being quizzed on "what they should be knowing." Asking particular questions can pressure them to perform in a certain way. They need the freedom to explore their limitations and boundaries and create things that a grown-up can't even imagine. It is a way for kids to understand their world and solve problems creatively. If a parent needs to know what they really need to be doing, he suggests the "whisper method," where he just whispers into the child's ear and asks, "What am I supposed to be doing?" It doesn't hamper the immersion.
The second thing he suggests not to do is "Command or demand change in behavior." It can raise tensions and lead to conflicts. We can redirect any unwanted behavior. If they're being too unsafe or aggressive, he either removes the toy or ends the playtime. It also helps draw boundaries.
The third thing he recommends not doing is, "criticize or cast judgment on their play." It creates a negative spiral that is difficult to get out of while also decreasing the joy of playing. Instead of evaluating their work, simply praising them in the process or paying more attention to how they feel about their play helps not only to create self-efficacy but also to stop people-pleasing behaviors. Let kids have the power to judge or have an internal source of support by helping them reflect on how their play makes them feel.
The fourth thing he urges parents not to use is "sarcasm or mockery." Putting them down for their mistakes or being silly can hurt their spirit. "Being in their world and following their lead" can help them feel in control and empowered. It is how they "grow and develop into who they are." It implies respect towards them.
The last but not the least thing that's a big 'no' is "Allowing distractions to enter the play." It is a screen-free small window of time where relationships can be enjoyed. Distractions break the moment and dilute things. Having firm boundaries enhances the short time we have with our kids. With these suggestions, children can feel safe and connected with their parents.
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