Learn Something New//Parenting Through Play

Hey All!

Thanks for joining me again for the new #TeachMe series.  Those of you who have been keeping up with my posts for a while know that the theme of my blog focuses on mending relationships.  I’ve spent quite some time now providing insight, new perspectives, and advice on how to improve your romantic relationships, as well as those between friends and co-workers.

Today, I wanted to shine some light on another important aspect of our lives…the parenting relationship.  Now, I’m no certified expert in this area, so today I include myself in learning something new.

I think many of us can agree that communication is one of the top priorities in nurturing a healthy and successful relationship. I’m sure many of you have mastered the skill of understanding baby talk…but, hopefully you can agree that this alone can become challenging.  Young children appear to have so much to say, and often times they have not yet fully developed the vocabulary to express themselves.  Both parent and child may then become easily irritable.  An increase in emotional and behavioral concerns from the child can take place as a result.

“Play is a fun, enjoyable activity that elevates our spirits and brightens our outlook on life” (Russ, 2004).

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Play therapy is a way for both parent and child to begin learning how to communicate with one another.

“Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego” (Landreth, 2002).

Initially, play therapy was created to treat mental, behavioral and psychosocial concerns, with weekly sessions with your child and a trained play therapist.  But I don’t see the harm in using this technique for any child under the age of 10, and with parents who want to improve their interactions with their child/decrease behavioral and emotional concerns. Just be sure to gain as much knowledge as possible in this therapy technique.

I had the opportunity to participate in play therapy, and filial therapy (teaching parents how to use play therapy with their kids) during my grad program.  I absolutely loved this! Now, I know what many of you must be thinking…

  • Why would I need someone teaching me how to play with my children?
  • I already play with my kids…and we have fun!

I completely get that you may have these thoughts initially.  I wanted to highlight the difference between play therapy and just everyday play.  Watch this quick video here on play therapy, to get a better idea of what this entails.

Play therapy helps parents to learn more about their children. Typically, children are unable to express themselves verbally.  For example, as a parent you may not get an accurate account of how your child’s day was (either at school or daycare), through verbal descriptions alone.  In addition to these types of questions, parents can allow their children to take the lead through play, to gain a better understanding on what they are feeling, and what they have experienced.

You have to allow the child to lead completely, refrain from guessing at what the child may be doing during play, and fight the urge to “help” them complete a task that you know they are capable of doing on their own. For example, asking your child things like: what do you want me to do next, where should I sit, what do you want the police officer to say? Try not to assign any names or labels to any of the toys until your child does so first (ie.the car may not be a “car”..may be a spaceship!).

Your child will begin gaining confidence, and learn how to better express themselves. Again, this type of play is separate from your everyday play (30 mins-1 hour, weekly or as often as you’d like).

The toys that are recommended to assist in this type of play expression:

Real Life/Nurturing (baby dolls, phone, money, furniture, clothes for dress up)

Acting Out/Aggressive Release (handcuffs, masks, “scary toys”, inflatable bop bag)

Expressive (paper, crayons, paint, building blocks)

*Board games are not encouraged for this type of play, because they limit expression and creativity.  Other than that, board games are awesome, and are a household necessity!

What are your experiences with playing with your children? How often do you play? 

Thanks for reading! Go out, play, and have fun!

Resources:

Click here to learn more about play therapy: benefits, what this treats, etc.

Click here for a more detailed list of toys to include in play therapy.

Association for Play Therapy

PlayTherapy3rdEdition

~FreeBryd

Image credit# 1, 2 and 3: Google images

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Heart 2 Heart//Changing Your Attitude

Kicking off the Heart 2 Heart series with a lesson of love for yourself…change your attitude.

This speaks to me in such a huge way.  I have been somewhat stuck in a cycle of negativity.   I know…how awful!

I started to be short with loved ones, and I had no idea what was happening.  I of course was the last to realize that I was “stuck”.  When I woke up, I made it a point to do something different.  I wanted to change my attitude…in fact, I needed to do this.  I was only torturing myself, and this was beginning to weigh on my soul!

I know that I have been taking many of the things in my life for granted, and that is not how I want to live my life. I

I want to be happy, so why not make this happen?

I want to be successful with my goals, so why not take those first steps to change the direction I want to go?

I don’t want to complain all of the time, about things that I am not willing to change, so why not work on resolutions instead?

This is how I spent my day yesterday.  Yes, this is something that I have done in the past, but I allowed myself to get caught up again.  I wasn’t taking the time to replenish myself, and prioritize my own self-care. To be honest, this was an extremely refreshing day.  I realized that I was sabotaging my own happiness. What I needed was to check my own attitude.

*Sidebar* I always hear people saying that they will treat others how they are treated by those same people…I don’t even want to do this.  I really want to take charge of my own life, and not have anyone dictate my attitude.  Saying you want to be happy, and actually chosing to be are completely different….again, I’m realizing this now.  For such a long time, I knew what it would take for me to be happy, and alter my mood, but have been inconsistent with making this happen.

So simple, but yet I was making this much harder than it needed to be.

I really took the time to count my blessings, and appreciate where I was in my life.  As a result, my day was brighter.  I was less cranky and annoyed, and kept on smiling for just the thought of being in control of my own happiness.

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I am Thankful for…

  • My health
  • My boyfriend returning home safely after traveling for work for the last five weeks (for my own selfish reasons)
  • My family and my friends (for their love and continuous support. Thanks for sharing my blog with others, and encouraging me to be great!!)
  • My career which allows me to pursue my dream of helping mend relationships

What are you Thankful for?

~FreeBryd

Image Credit#1: Found on Etsy

Image Credit#2: Found on google images

Learn Something New//Book Review

Hello World!

Starting this Wednesday off with a book review, for my #TeachMe series.  The book I have been reading is, The Dance of Intimacy, by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.

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Well, I made it through the first half of the book so far! This book was written as a “woman’s guide”, to changing significant relationships. For all of you who are not familiar with this author, her books can be utilized by anyone.   Stay tuned, because I wanted to include all of you with sharing your thoughts on whether or not you would continue reading this book, and the reasons for doing so. You can help by taking the toll at the end of the post. 🙂

Now! Let’s get started with peeling away the layers of this book, shall we?!

“It is the will to change that motivates us to seek help, and it is the fear of change that motivates us to resist the very help we seek”-Lerner.

The main theme throughout this book is understanding the process of change, to increase intimacy.  What I mean is, when we feel “stuck” in your relationship, we often blame the other person.  Maybe it’s their fault for starting the argument with us. Maybe our partner is at fault for not calling us back? But, I challenge you to think of what could possible be contributing to these sources of anxiety? It could very well be the most obvious concern, then indeed a quick fix is needed.  This will not always be the case…

I believe Harriet Lerner is justified in her belief that there are many books available that offer specific guidelines, and how to’s, in regards to improving your relationships with others.  But, what are we learning from many of these books? How can we learn to sustain long-term changes, when many of these recommendations may have been based off of a quick perception of the problem? I agree that these books can and have been helpful, but what we should focus on is becoming more knowledgeable in getting to the root of these “issues”.

To give you a better example, think about going to a friend to talk about your day…you know, just venting about what happened that caused you to become upset.  Next, this friend has the best advice on what you should have done, and the reasons why this advice will help “fix” everything. Either this can be good really good advice, and you are thanking your lucky stars for such an amazing friend, or perhaps this friend has completely missed the mark? Without really understanding what happened in your day, how can anyone offer you meaningful suggestions that would be satisfying for you?

Not even do the significant people in our lives get to take the fall for providing us with the “wrong advice”! Many times WE are quick to jump to make decisions on how to resolve the “immediate” problems.  Of course this may seem logical at the time.  On the contrary, if you’re having the same argument for the 5th time this week, this may cause you to feel hopeless right? Been there. Done that too many times to count.  What this just means is that you really haven’t figured out why these arguments are truly happening…I’ve learned that my expectations can get me into a ton of trouble.  Come on guys, I can’t be the only one out there. 🙂 Many of my past disagreements, (with anyone), boiled down to me not feeling comfortable with accepting that life happens. I won’t have the ability of predicting what should happen or when (even though this would be…awesome).

headacheInstead of discussing my expectations before the disagreement, I chose to say nothing.  I’ve also learned that I needed to speak up for the things that I wanted. I was tired of hiding, and dealing with huge blow ups after the fact.  :-/

In a nutshell, this book provides you with ways on how to begin understanding where your feelings of anxiety stem from, that may prevent you from changing your behavior to improve intimacy within your relationship.  Does your symptoms of anxiety originate from earlier experiences? Or is it something more recent in your life/relationship that needs your attention? Lerner provides case examples, and personal narratives about how to begin this process.

My question to you is, how do you resolve issues in any of your relationships? Are these changes typically a quick fix, or do you feel that you need to constantly address the same issue?

Help me Rate This Book:

Based on this book review so far, would you continue reading this book?

Thanks for your feedback!

~FreeBryd

Photo Credit #1: http://blog.prepscholar.com/how-to-improve-your-low-sat-reading-score-6-strategies

Photo Credit #2: http://www.harrietlerner.com/pages/intimacy.html

Photo Credit # 3: http://www.unhs.co.uk/unhs/your-health/health-advice/headache.aspx