Expressing Self Through Play

Self-Expression

The power of conveying your thoughts and feelings to the world. It often isn’t an easy thing to do. However, giving children the tools and knowledge to learn about self-expression and communicating in a positive manner is worth its weight in gold. The attempt here will be how play can be used to teach some of the elements of good communication and positive, constructive self-expression.

The Montessori approach to learning fascinates me. Maybe I’m intrigued by its approach from the perspective of the issues I had learning as a child. At any rate this technique offers great ideas and beliefs that can help a parent or caregiver provide the teaching a young child learning about themselves, as individuals, needs.

 

What makes us tick? How does our personality possibly define how we will react to certain situations?

Teaching your child how to make a first impression is a wonderful thing to help them be successful.

Introducing yourself

Breaking the ice as an adult can be challenging for some. So if a child is taught this at an early age then they’ll feel more confident about their place in the world. Even as babies your child can start to learn about themselves from you. Put your baby in your lap and while in front of a mirror simply begin to describe them to them. Maybe you start with their developing features. Then their name. Who you are to them. This kind of activity will begin to form in their little minds a sense of who they are and as they mature they can recite back to you or others who they are and what makes them unique.

Some fun activities they can do which centers around their identity is to describe three of your child’s features or something else about them, to them. Now ask your child about their feature or attribute you just described. For example, you tell your child they are four years old and they were born on a Tuesday. You could ask what day they were born on or how old are they. Then you could follow up this question asking them to count on their hand how old they are or point to the day on a calendar they were born. In the Montessori Method this is a variation of, “The Three-Stage Lesson”.

Family Meetings

Every family has issues that need to be discussed from time to time. In the Montessori Method this is practiced. All families are not the same so make your family meetings exclusively your own. Organize it with everyone in mind and keep it exclusive without cell phones and any other distractions.

One way to make it unique is to play a game where one member asks the rest about a particular event, or the like, that another family member experienced recently. This one is great for small children and knowing what’s going on in other family member’s lives will keep everyone connected even when they go their separate ways. Limit the meetings to members three and up but also have younger members present. You don’t want to exclude any family member for this important family activity.

Caring for a Pet

I know for me learning about the cycle of life began with the pets I had as a kid. One of the things I was fascinated with as a kid was a cat I had that had litters of kittens. I was intrigued by the whole experience from the time the cat started to show till the time she delivered all the fun little fur balls of joy!

Caring for an animal is a great way for a child to learn about the cycle of life. Developing a bond with the animal and understanding that the animal is depending on them to clean and feed them is a great lesson to learn early. Which all this can lead to wonderful discussions with your child. Such as, what they like about caring for their pet and the other things they find difficult about caring for an animal.

The Terrific Threes!

At around the age of three children are beginning to develop more complex thought patterns and a personal history they can remember. They can start to tell you about their day or maybe their favorite TV show they love to watch. They may even be able to remember their favorite jingle to sing and dance to as well.

Creating works of art is probably the most widely used activity to convey a message to the world. And for children this is probably the most enjoyable way to communicate their thoughts and ideas to us all. For me this was the case. One art activity you and your child can create is life sized models of themselves. Simply buy some heavy, white wrapping paper large enough for your child to lay which completely contains their entire outline. Then using a marker or crayon trace their form out. Next cut it out for them and let then give it to them to re-imagine the form in whatever their imagination will allow. You might even change it up by having the pose in different positions that they can have fun with.

Another fun way kids can creatively communicate to others is by making their own greeting cards. But not just any ordinary greeting. A large custom creation with lots of drawings and positive messages. A regular 30”X20” poster board folded in half is ideal for a kid to let their creative message and imagination run wild.

Amazing Bean – “Coffee War”

Coffee WarIn my cartoon-comic, Amazing Bean, I touch on the subject of self-expression. Albeit in a humorous way, nonetheless the idea of self-expression revolves around Bean’s disdain for coffee and Amazing Snail’s love of it. The lesson this short story conveys is that it’s ok to feel a certain way but finding a better solution than Bean’s is a better approach and Snail’s reaction could be improved on too. So you could have a discussion with your child about the solutions my characters used and maybe better ways to approach the matter.

 

 

 

 

Some suggestions on topics are:

  • Tantrums types and causes
  • Courtesy
  • Communication breakdown
  • Self-Control
  • Learning to cope with being antagonized

 

Resources

Reitzes, Fretta., Teitelman, Beth: Wonder Play. Philadelphia: Running, 1995.

Seldin, Tim. How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way. New York: Penguin, 2006.