Can Your Child Direct Her Own Play?


I'm mixing things up a little bit on my blog today....

If you follow along with me on my parenting journey on Instagram , you already know a lot about my mom-style.  I believe in a creative, adventurous, child-led approach to momming.  From time to time, fellow moms will reach out to me for advice about their children. I'm sharing one question here in hopes of helping more moms.

Here's a question from a mom of a toddler: 

QUESTION:  "My daughter is 2.5 and we are struggling to stay interested in activities at home.  She’s great out and about, but at home it’s a different story.  I was wondering if you found that the child-led approach was more successful for your children as they became a bit older?

My daughter starts a Reggio school next month and I used to teach art at a children’s museum so I have a lot of experience with the approach.  I’m just finding it a lot more challenging with my own child at home.  I am wondering if you had similar challenges? " 

 ANSWER: "First, the fact that you are even thinking about what kind of parenting approach you want to take is a parenting-win. 

I think a couple of things might be happening for you and your daughter.  As I am sure you already know, two and a half years olds are testing boundaries and limits constantly.  They are supposed to.  It's their job. As moms, it can be really challenging.  I know It was for me. She might be sensing your desire for the child-led approach to be successful, and if so, maybe she is pushing back.

That said, I do believe in a child-led approach, right from the beginning.  Young children are capable of directing their own play. They need the time, space and confidence to work it all out.

A few things I might ask myself in your shoes.... Are my expectations for my child’s play in line with her environment, her temperament and her developmental stage? How can I adjust my own expectations to make them more realistic?  In response to your question, it might be helpful to think about how you define success and go from there.

The next thing I would look at is her play space.  Is it defined?  Is it overloaded with choices or are there just a few open-ended materials? I always lean towards keeping the selection of materials small.  Additionally, children don’t require a lot of space to call their own.  Even a small corner marked off with tape would work just fine. 

Finally, and probably most importantly, remind yourself that everything is a phase.  Do what feels right, even if it is not exactly what you might think a child-led experience would offer. 

Thank you for trusting me with your question. Good luck, Mama! You are doing a great job.

Do you have any questions for me? Send me an email or comment below.   

Thanks for following along with me. 




LIzzie AssaComment