Some say that play is the work of children.
I agree. Sort of….
The developmental tasks accomplished through playing are what truly matter.
Equally important: What kind of co-worker are you Mommy? The hovering, scampering, secretarial type? The strict foreman who keeps the trains running on time? Or are you more of an over-qualified, underpaid, personal assistant to a diva?
Here’s what your kid is working on, and how you can really help:
Birth to First Birthday:
Your super-curious baby spends a lot of her time figuring out her place in the world.
In the first few months of her life, she experiments with causes and effects — everything from what happens when she smiles or cries, to what happens when she kicks her foot at the new crib mobile. In the second half of her first year, she becomes able to direct her curiosity and see it through to a result. Like that toy you think you hid, or the cup you think you put a lid on…. remember Mommy, it’s her job to discover. It’s your job to control her environment to make sure she learns that life is interesting, comforting, and safe. Besides, within months, she will love imitating you so much that she’ll even help clean up her own splashes. Discipline? Save it for next year.
First Birthday to 2 years old:
Your super-independent baby thinks she’s got it all figured out, doesn’t she?
She walks now (just like you). She talks now (just like you, she thinks). What does she need you for? Diaper changes, but she won’t always admit that. At this age, your toddler discovers multiple ways to reach her goals. If she wants her blankie from the laundry pile, she might pull down the whole pile to get it closer to her, or she might climb the furniture to get herself closer to it. Either way, she’s convinced she doesn’t need your help — except for when she does, right? It’s your job to be patient for now, and avoid power struggles. Discipline should be about setting and keeping boundaries, not punishment.
2 years old to 3 & 4 years old:
Your super-social kid spends a lot of time figuring out everyone else’s business — even if she has to make some of it up.
At first, your child starts with simple imitation of actions she has seen. By ages 3 and 4, she and her friends will use sociodramatic play (or make-believe) to try on different personalities, and try out different situations. The simple body-oriented play of the first 24 months is expanded to symbolic play, which means that kids this age can hold something in their minds although the object isn’t really there. You know — they pretend. Mommy’s job: to be a good stage mother.
Read more Cognitive Development posts