Social and Emotional

The Value of Friends for Kids – More Than Three Amigos

Today’s play, the value of friends for kids, is inspired by a meeting. When leaders call their meeting The Three Amigos or Friends, they send a loud message, that of the significance of friendship. Together, Canada, Mexico, and the United States have over 487 million people. The issue of closer understanding and connection is the basis for trade, finance, and everything else.value of friends for kids three amigos

And the value of friends is an issue for young children too. Children have both real friends and imaginary ones. This quote is from  Insights for Parents: Midnight Monsters and Imaginary Companions. Dr. Lawrence Kutner says, “Imaginary companions are an integral part of many children’s lives. They provide comfort in times of stress, companionship when they’re lonely, someone to boss around when they feel powerless, and someone to blame for the broken lamp in the living room. Most important, an imaginary companion is a tool young children use to help them make sense of the adult world.” There are advantages to real friends too and roots of friendship grow deep.

Making friends will be easy for some kids, and harder for others. Children all have their own unique mix of strengths and challenges. A few relationships skills are making eye contact, sharing, taking turns, starting conversations with new people, and being able to ask others to join in. Like other skills, these friendship ones can be learned and they get better with practice.

As parents and caregivers, some ways that we can support children to make friends are to read books, share stories, and modelling how to be a friend. We also need to give kids opportunities to try out what they know about being a friend. Playdates is only part of the experience. In Banish the Playdate, Dadncharge writes, “This idea that two kids playing together has to be an event is altering the spontaneity of our children.” Playgrounds, libraries, and community events, like sitting outside and watching fireworks, are places where kids may spontaneously meet other kids and be friendly.

helping children make friends

In the spirit of the example by our countries’ leaders, and the recognition of the value of friends for kids,  is there some time for your child to play with friends today?

Bubble Activities #18: Bubbles Help Kids Make Friends

When camping, make sure to take for kids sidewalk chalk and bubble solution. This weekend, we experienced how chalk and bubbles help kids make friends.

nadure adventure camping

For most families, there isn’t much room to take toys along when going camping. Hopefully, there won’t be much time to use them anyway. After all, the idea is to spend the day outdoors. Nature supplies some things to play with in the form of rocks, sticks, grassy hills, and trees. Campgrounds have paths for hiking and biking. Often, there are playgrounds with other kids.

making friends playground

In a campground, kids don’t have to know each other to have fun but for some, it can be a concern. While some kids meet everyone close by in just a few minutes, other children are not comfortable around people that are new. They might feel anxious and unsure. Even children who are not shy may not have strategies to interact and connect with unfamiliar kids. Somehow, both chalk and bubbles help kids make friends.

outside math fun and learning activities for kids

As we walked around the campground, we saw a few places where other kids had drawn hopscotch on the ground. What do you do if you see a hopscotch where you are walking? Adults may go around but kids try it out. If the child who drew it is close by, s/he may come over and jump too or at least stand there hoping to be noticed. It’s easy for another child to ask, “Is that your hopscotch?” And so a connection is made as two kids who do not yet know each other’s name begin to play together.

bubbles help kids make friends

Bubbles are a sort of magnet for kids. As soon as a few float by, the hunt begins to see where they are coming from. Once that mystery has been solved, kids can chase and pop them. If your kids are the ones blowing bubbles, it’s almost guaranteed that other kids will follow the bubble trail and end up watching. At this point, it’s easy to ask another child if s/he would like to blow some bubbles too. Set up a pan on a table and some bubble wands. Or, small straws will blow bubbles and each child can have a small dixie cup or other container for bubble solution. Soon, your kids will have made some new friends.

Wonder if science or math has this formula for how chalk and bubbles help kids make friends?

Doll Play for Kids Inspired by Barbie’s Birthday

This week was the birthday of the Barbie doll. Is it too obvious to use this to inspire some doll play for kids? Any doll, stuffie, or plastic figurine can be part of play, as well as both girls and boys. Kids often have a favorite toy or character. doll play for kids

No matter what toy children choose, doll play includes a story. Before Barbie, most dolls represented a baby or young child. With baby or young child dolls, that story is naturally about caring for a baby and the child takes on the role of parent or other caregiver.

Despite the controversy about Barbie, she is an adult. Having a grownup doll as a possibility means kids can create a different kind of story. Now, the doll can go to the office, make the decisions, drive the car, talk on the phone, go shopping, and do the things adults do. Through the doll, kids can act out what it’s like to be grown up. They get to make up the story as they play.

When playing with an adult doll, instead of being the parent to a baby, kids can interact with the doll on a grown up level. The scenarios become quite different, as the child and the doll-adult interact. They may go out for coffee, have a conversation as adults do, and decide who will be the boss at work. With two adult dolls, kids can step back and just let the dolls interact. Either way, we can observe how children interpret what adults to and what they think happens when we’re grown up. Often, adult dolls don’t have to go to bed so early.

doll play for kidsBarbie dolls are changing to be more inclusive and realistic. There will now be seven different skin tones and four body types, including one in a wheel chair.  Ken is also getting a new image to more closely resemble a dad. The industry is reflecting the diversity of children that play with dolls and how kids play with them.

Whether playing with a baby doll, toddler, stuffie, Barbie or character figurine, what’s central to doll play for kids, both boys and girls, is the story. It could one of caring or conflict, a time at home and job or a life and death battle. What engages kids is what is happening in their imaginations. What have you seen as children play with dolls?

Family Stories for Young Children

February is a unique month with so many celebrations, including  Black History Month. There are important messages about family stories for young children, no matter our heritage. Children’s sense of self is interwoven with their family and family history. So much so that it’s sometimes called “the intergenerational self.” (The Intergenerational Self: Subjective Perspective and … Continue reading Family Stories for Young Children

May The Force Be With You – The Force of Kindness

Today’s play-of-the-day combines the power of stars with another force—the force of kindness. Stars are really quite magical. We see them as tiny with our eyes but use them to mean very, very big. Famous people are called Stars, and there are Rock Stars, Super Stars, and Sport Stars. Stars are considered to be a … Continue reading May The Force Be With You – The Force of Kindness

Darth Vader Helps Kids Learn Facial Expressions

Toys, like Star Wars Mr. Potato Head and Darth Vader can help kids learn facial expressions. Facial expressions are a significant part of our communication with each other but not only do kids have to ‘read’ the expression, they also have to match it to the feeling. Newborns respond to smiles with delight and toddlers … Continue reading Darth Vader Helps Kids Learn Facial Expressions

The Importance of Family for Early Learning

The importance of family and time together is even being recognized by the retail industry. Some stores were closed for Black Friday so employees could have a day at home and, even better, some were still paid for the day. Any chance, do you think, this might become a trend? Children’s learning before school ever … Continue reading The Importance of Family for Early Learning

Basic Social Skills and Dinosaurs

The upcoming holiday season will likely have more social interactions. Helping kids with basic social skills will make these easier. Dinosaurs to the rescue. Well, a little bit. Although the t-rex was better left all alone, scientists think that some dinosaurs banded together in groups or herds. Any group behavior comes with expectations and conditions … Continue reading Basic Social Skills and Dinosaurs