Playing with Toys

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Leila
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Playing with Toys

Postby Leila » 17 Jan 2015, 23:50

Day 69: Introducing Toys & Expansive Play | Practical Parenting
http://journey-to-new-life.blogspot.com ... -play.html

When we initially started introducing toys to Cesar, I approach the situation from my own experience and background. Within my experience, I always felt and believed myself to have had ‘little toys’ and that I was missing out in some way or another, especially if I looked at how many toys my friends had.

I didn’t want Cesar to have this experience but I also didn’t want to go overboard by bombarding him with toys.

I felt that it was important for him to have ‘choice’ and to be able to decide what he plays with out of a range of things. So I would always present him with several toys at once and see which one he wanted to play with. What I started noticing is that even though I thought that ‘choice’ was what he wanted or something he would see as ‘important’, he was actually experiencing a lot of frustration and conflict.

Because, within each time having to in a single moment decide between a bunch of toys, he could not make up his mind because he has no reference of ‘what he likes’ – everything is new and he wants to explore EVERYTHING. So he doesn’t really want to choose. What would happen is that he starts off with one toy, and after briefly having ‘met’ the toy he would already be eyeing the next one and then drop the first to go on to the next – again exploring it only briefly.

While he picked himself a toy, I would pick a different toy for myself to play with. This was not also a source of conflict because now Cesar wanted to explore what I was exploring! So then I would say ‘Okay, sure – you take this one and I will take yours’. But then as soon as the toys swapped hands he wanted his previous toy back again.

When there were lots of toys on the floor, he would get ‘disorganized’ within himself as he is faced with all these options and not knowing how to make a decision of what to play with and what not to play with. This led him to being more frustrated and agitated throughout the day as he was lacking direction within himself and his environment.

I then stopped my ‘choice’ approach, as I saw that this was not actually serving his well-being but just feeding into frustration. We started a new approach of ‘one thing at a time’. So now, we would take one toy – any toy – remember, at this stage everything is new and everything is interesting, so it didn’t matter what we picked. And we would take just the one toy or object and just sit and explore it. We would talk about how it looks, how it feels, the colours, what we can do with it and really get to know the object/toy. This, Cesar enjoyed a lot more. You could actually trace a look of concentration on his face and could see how he just lost himself in the toy for a moment, exploring it totally and completely. There were no other toys to worry about or any other things waiting to happen or to do. There was just this one moment, with this one toy and Cesar’s eagerness to explore. His behaviour changed immediately as he was a lot more calmer and stable within himself.

Once he had explored a toy for a few days, we would then also have a look at things we could do with the object/toy that it wasn’t necessarily meant to do in terms of how it was designed to be played with – but what we could do with it none the less. This I enjoyed a lot as it also forced me to move beyond the state of mind that ‘this is how this toy is supposed to be used’, where if the toy is used in a different way it means that ‘Cesar is not getting it’ [see also Maite’s blog on this topic].
So we would take for instance shapes and see where else they fit in the room with other objects around, or we would stack toys that weren’t meant for stacking, or make up new games with parts of a toy-set.

This I found a very cool way to work with toys, as you firstly set the scene for focus and attentiveness within working with just the one toy and then set the scene for creativity as you see how far you can push a single toy. Still today Cesar surprises me with how he comes up different combinations of using a single object.

One of the objects he really likes playing for instance and has been playing with since the moment he could ‘play’ is an empty plastic bottle. It’s one of those objects that is so ordinary and so simplistic in its design that you’d think that a child would get bored with it in no time. But Cesar has learnt how to roll the bottle and crawl behind it, to make it spin, to put it upright, to bang it against different object and observe the different frequency sounds the bottle makes, now he also plays with matching the frequency with his own voice, he practices screwing the lid on and off, putting small objects into the bottle and getting them out again, looking through different parts of the bottle and how it skews what he sees,…

If you give an adult an empty bottle, they’ll quickly be tired of it because they think they already know what they can and can’t do with it, that they ‘know its purpose’ and so won’t bother moving themselves to find out what else they can do with it.

So this ‘out of the box’ playing with toys has been very interesting for Cesar and myself and has shown to be a lot more satisfactory than him being overwhelmed by choice.

Now, there are many times where he gets to roam around the room and play with whatever he wants – but now he has learnt how to play with toys and he understands that he doesn’t have to get lost in the face of choice, but can move with one toy at a time and explore it completely. So from that perspective, having choice around is cool for him because he can actually exercise it – while he previously simply did not know how to deal with it and was simply a source of frustration.
So choice does come to a have a part in how he plays with toys, but we first had to establish a foundation of how to play with toys and take something to the max – so that he can now do this for himself and within this also appreciate every toy for a long time rather than only being happy and excited by the novelty of things.

Whenever he gets a new toy or someone brings several new toys – we still introduce only one toy at a time so he has the time and space to get to know the toy before we introduce the next.



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Leila
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Re: Playing with Toys

Postby Leila » 22 Jan 2015, 19:52

Day 70: Toys and the Terms and Conditions we place on them | Practical Parenting
http://journey-to-new-life.blogspot.com ... ns-we.html

Another dimension which I would like to open up in relation to my previous blog Day 69: Introducing Toys & Expansive Play, is that of hidden values we may hold towards toys – which our children don’t – and which may affect one’s relationship with one’s child playing with toys; and consequently the child’s relationship with playing with toys.

In my previous blog I mentioned how Cesar would play with toys in a way that ‘they were not intended to’, and the dimension of fear involved in terms of ‘developmental delay’ where I feared that Cesar not playing with the toy as how it was designed/intended to be played with was indicative to him being ‘behind’. Now, another dimension of fear I noticed at one point, was the fear of him breaking toy – which also falls within this category of ‘not using a toy the way it was intended to be used’.

Here, we were playing with a toy which we had just gotten him which had been quite pricey. Then as he started to play with the toy more intensely, almost as if he was deliberately putting its structural integrity and durability to the test – I experienced myself constricting inside myself and intervening in how he was playing with the toy. Cesar obviously didn’t like this very much, as he was exploring the toy within this particular way and was set out to continue exploring it within this manner as far as he could take it. When I noticed movement inside myself and wanting to move to intervene I stopped and asked myself why I was so intent on limiting him within how he was playing with the toy. “It’s his toy” I told myself. And then an image if how expensive the toy had been came up.

‘Ah’.

So here, I saw and realised how I had placed a particular value on the toy within the knowledge and information of how much the toy had cost, and where within the decision of buying the expensive toy, having made the decision/hope that it would ‘go a long way’.

Then you have Cesar who receives the toy and is like ‘Oh yay, cool’ – and almost immediately goes into checking how he can take it apart. This didn’t match my expectation which had been part of the decision of buying the toy, and how I projected he would play with the toy – which than caused inner conflict and friction. Where initially, I perceived Cesar to be the problem within ‘how he plays with the toy’; instead of seeing and realising that the problem was within my projection and expectations which were like ‘hidden terms and conditions’ which I was carrying around within myself in relation to the toy.

So, I took a step back within myself, breathed in, breathed out – and within the out breath completely let go of any expectations and limitations I had placed on the toy – placing the toy unconditionally within Cesar’s control (or rather, within his innocence).

I also realised that it would be futile to forevermore try and keep him from breaking things, as it would always leave an unsatisfied curiosity which would be bound to come out in one way or another.

The one day for instance, we were playing in the garden when some flowers that Maite had recently planted caught his eye. I went ‘uh oh’, and soon enough Cesar was pulling the flowers from the plants. But then he did an interesting thing, where he would pick up the flowers and place them back on the stem from which he pulled them; which obviously didn’t work and the flower would just float/fall down to the ground. And he would try that a few more times with the other flowers he had pulled off and then looked at me with this ‘Oh!’ face. So there I could tell he went through a learning-moment where he realised that if he pulls the flower off, then it’s off and you can’t get it back to how it used to be. So he will pull flowers off and he will break things – it’s inevitable. But the other side of the coin is that he will inevitably learn about the actions he performs, their cause and effect and consequence – and so how our physical reality operates.



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Carrie
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Location: Bucksport, Maine USA

Re: Playing with Toys

Postby Carrie » 23 Jan 2015, 00:14

Then you have Cesar who receives the toy and is like ‘Oh yay, cool’ – and almost immediately goes into checking how he can take it apart. This didn’t match my expectation which had been part of the decision of buying the toy, and how I projected he would play with the toy – which than caused inner conflict and friction. Where initially, I perceived Cesar to be the problem within ‘how he plays with the toy’; instead of seeing and realising that the problem was within my projection and expectations which were like ‘hidden terms and conditions’ which I was carrying around within myself in relation to the toy.
Cool realizations Leila. Thanks for sharing.




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