Updated: Nov 8, 2019
My daughter is getting more independent , more in her head. She's figuring things out, lightbulb moments are popping all the time, you can see it in her eyes as she pieces together parts of her world. She's trying to convey this with speech, she is chatting up a storm, interjecting in conversations and calling out to people , not in English, but she thinks she is .... She is problem solving and experimenting and most importantly playing. Yes, they all play I hear you say and yes they do granted but it's the type of play that they exhibit that is so wonderful and important.
Our babies/toddlers learn through play, pretty much everything. They learn to eat through very messy play at the table or high chair. They learn trial and error in play, to do things like shape sorting and stacking of cups. They learn to take turns and interact with others through play in a social environment. And the most important play of all , and only comes with time and opportunity that we need to foster and give them is IMAGINATION play.
My daughter has started to use her ‘ language’ with her imagination to play , to act out things with toys especially soft toys or ones that are recognisable as having a function, such as cars and tools, dolls etc, She started to make up wee scenarios in her head, I will find her talking to her toys. She is very loving towards them, each one gets a cuddle. It is very sweet.
These wee connections she is forming were very prevalent when we went on holidays just a few weeks ago. For two reasons . One she was able to entertain herself, the sand on the beach we were on was very hot ! So poor thing was hostage to the beach blanket and umbrella shade provided. But she made the most of it , by collecting rocks and stacking them, from bucket to bucket, blanket to a sea wall and back down again. When she collected different sizes of stones to rocks , she changed the way she played with them and the most interesting was her voice. She spoke normally to the good sized ones and in a higher pitch to the smaller ones. Like we do to babies. It was wonderful to watch. Which brings me to my 2nd observation. That we must only observe in theses situations. Which can be hard to do.
We sometimes feel that we need to entertain our kids and or get involved with them, if they look like they are not ‘ doing’ anything. But I disagree, I feel if they are happy bumbling around in their own heads ....Leave them.
I find there is always someone who thinks doing ‘ nothing ‘ is literally wasteful or doing nothing. But that’s the point. My husband is not good at this , he messes with our wee one. She is happy in her head and he comes over and tickles her or tries to instigate a different game. She ( and I ) get annoyed and he doesn't know why. Im trying to tell him to save his diversions and or distraction, interactions for when she is 'looking for something to do '. He wasn't reading the scene that she was happy to do her own thing. As we know kids will attach themselves to you , every where, they come to bathroom, bedroom, where you sit, they will gravitate to that part of the room. So when she is happy lost in a game of her making , to step back and let her be. They will always find you !!
I also had a Dad once , back when I was a nanny, who once I had his kids settled and playing with things , would come in and clap his hands literally disturbing the peace and say , they're not doing anything ,what activity do you have sorted for them. Don't know if he just wanted his moneys worth out me, or he did not understand that kids playing with their imagination is invaluable for self confidence, being happy in their own company and leads to self starting later in life. I did gently tell him , I was teaching them not to hang around his ankles on weekends looking for him to supply entertainment and constant stimulation for them . He saw my life lesson and let me get on with it, happy to say.
Imagination is a wonderful tool in which children problem solve and figure things out, make sense of things and entertain themselves. Trust me it becomes invaluable when they are older and aren't always at your feet, whinging 'Im bored'. Imagination also leads to day dreaming, getting lost in thought. Which is also a tool for coping and stress management. How much would we now love a minute to ourselves yet we interrupt our kids when they are cognitively working things out....
This also goes for pottaling, pottering, wandering etc. As Bob Dylan said , not all wanders are lost. This is very true for toddlers , kids. They like to just wander around, take in the space, observe. It's wonderful when they are young to give them safe space to just toddle about in. I call it ( her space ) the rat run, I have a circuit , through the kitchen and hallway, lounge, playroom and spare room that leads to the garden ( all interconnected with doors ) It is toddler proofed as such and she can just play where ever and with what ever she feels. This usually entails rearranging my bookcase, and her dropping off toys and items from playroom in weird and wonderful spots. The ball pit is systematically emptied and redistributed around above rooms. I will always be in one of the rooms and she acknowledges to me as she goes by.... But I mainly leave her to it, and collect up the trail of destruction at the end of the day. She happily pottles about, lost in her own agenda, being very independent! When the weather is nice and she is older, I'll open the door to the garden and let her be free and feral in a natural space. There is so much to be learnt from exploring your environment, inside and out and can be both very calming and stimulating for your child. All kinds of weather, mud pies to daisy chains, ball games to huts with all the kitchen chairs. Imagination play is the best
So if you find you come in to see your child lost in a game, an activity which is engaging them and they don't even know you are there, stop, back out of room, go make a cuppa and get to drink it and give yourself that minute too , DO NOT DISTURB.