Posted in Amelia, Amelia on emotion coaching, Blog, Mother

Harnessing the power of imaginative play

Today at lunch, E didn’t want to sit in her high chair to eat. This is nothing new; sometimes she wiggles and kicks up a ruckus when she doesn’t want to sit in it. Mid-wriggle though, she informed me that “Sheepie [AKA the Sleep Sheep, who bleated her last soothing noise some time ago and is now E’s second-favorite stuffed companion] sit chair. Sheepie hungry!” And I replied, “Oh, Sheepie is hungry? Would she like to sit in the chair and eat?” So we went and got Sheepie and put her in E’s chair. E picked up her sippy cup and offered some to Sheepie (and yes, I almost died from cuteness exposure) and then wanted to sit in the chair and eat the lunch I had laid out on the table herself. Score!

This act has been a growing trend around our house. As E, who is a very verbal child, both talking and listening well (forgive me if I sound like one of those people but she really is verbal), gains an interest in the world around her and how she can manipulate it, she increasingly wants to get her dolls (“Baby” and “Dolly”) and stuffed animals (“Ms. Mousie” and the aforementioned “Sheepie”) to do things. And I will admit that I’m brazenly using this to my advantage.

For example: It’s cold outside; we have to slog through the rain to take the dog for a walk. E doesn’t want to put her jacket on, nor does she want to get in the stroller. No problem! Solution: Me: “E, does Baby want to put her sweater and hat on? Is Baby cold? We don’t want her to be cold, do we?” And E goes and gets Baby’s sweater and acoutrements and we put them on. Then in the same cheerful voice I ask her if she would like to put her hat and coat on, “…just like Baby!” Totally does the trick. As for the stroller? “Would Baby like to ride in the stroller and wear her seat belt?” Of course she would, sitting on E’s lap.

Also works for the bath (Baby is amphibious–by which I mean waterproof, not actually an amphibian) and the car seat.

Can’t get your toddler to do something? Give this trick a try, which I think is especially potent as they develop empathy (~21 months). They get to practice with what x/y/z thing you’re trying to get them to do on a beloved object–helping them to imagine what it will be like for them to do x/y/z thing too, with the added bonus of giving them control over something in their world (i.e., toddler gold).

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