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Does anyone out there NOT know how to play? Well, if so, the following should be helpful…

First, let your hair down, get out of those high-heeled shoes, pinstriped suits, (or whatever restricts you), shake your hair loose, and get down to baby’s level. Do this partly for you, and partly for the child. Just think how HUGE everyone must seem to a baby or small child. And how about that crook in the neck one gets when they have to crane up, up, up just to look into someone’s eyes. Well, that’s what little ones have to do if you don’t get on the floor or down in the dirt with them.
Once you’re there, start playing with baby’s favorite toys or rattle right along with them. Make cooing noises, and tickle the child. (Don’t tickle until the baby shows distress and breathlessness, but just enough to keep him/her engaged and entertained.)
Play peek-a-boo. Hold a toy, scarf, etc. in the front of your face, then, drop it suddenly while saying, “Peek-a-boo!” After you’ve done this a few times, put the object in front of baby’s face, dropping it in the same way, saying, “Peek-a-boo” again. They’ll think they are now controlling the game, and you will see the delight in their little face.
Put a mirror in front of baby and watch what happens. If you are holding him/her, you can zoom in closer, then, withdraw to see their reaction. They love this.
Place your baby in a bouncy swing or chair, and stay with them a few minutes to begin play. You will find they will entertain themselves much longer if you start each time with play in this confined space. If you walk away immediately after setting them down, they will feel deserted and most likely start to fuss.
Let your child pick the toy or stuffed animals they prefer. Never force a child to play with a toy that doesn’t interest or suit his/her age or attention span. Play should be FREE; free time for you and the wee one. It can be very relaxing for both.
A hand puppet (preferably animal in nature) can entertain a baby or small child for hours. They truly believe the actions are coming from this creature, and you can invent any voice or story line you wish, depending on what animal puppet you choose. Small children will even respond better to this hand puppet telling them what to do, such as: “Pick up your toys, please.” You can teach them general hygiene and many other useful things through the voice of this puppet.
For children four to six, a rewards system with gold stars being placed on a daily chart of small duties, can and will teach them responsibilities, and they will do them gleefully just to be able to add that star to their list of good deeds.
Read to your child from three months of age or sooner. They will be soothed by your voice, will learn quickly, and will most likely be avid readers when they reach school age.
Be lighthearted in dealing with children from the cradle to adulthood. You can tease (not destructively) but in a “fooling around” manner, in order to change their mood from grumpy to laughing their little socks off. This does not mean you ignore a baby or child’s feelings (especially during teen years) because even babies have bad days, and sometimes feel out of sorts for no apparent reason. Be alert to these changes in your child because it can mean ill health or pain (both emotional as well as physical).
If you build a fun-loving relationship with little ones, it will hopefully last through those rough times when teens are definitely aloof with feelings and radical mood swings. Ugh! My advice to parents at this point would be “KNOW YOUR CHILD.”
It’s like radar with most moms, and some dads. Kids truly believe we have ‘eyes in the back of our heads’ because we know without turning around, what our child is doing or thinking if we have maintained a close relationship with them, and stayed in tune with their individual needs, attitudes, and feelings. A silent room is always a good clue. Babies and children can be sneaky at a very young age.
Remember; No matter how adorable they may be, ALL children are born little sinners, and it’s up to us parents to direct them away from their sinful-nature. They will fight, steal, lie, defy, bite, and scream for attention from six months on. Use the word “NO” often and with authority, but don’t forget to PLAY…

 

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