Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Play time 'helps build confidence and social skills'

Much is written about how to improve youngsters' behaviour, and some experts suggest that setting rules and boundaries is the way to achieve it. Super Nanny Jo Frost became famous for her so-called Naughty Step approach, where a child is removed from a situation if they are not behaving in an appropriate manner. Another technique is to take away your young one's favourite possession for a limited time.

As a parent, you no doubt do these things in the hope of achieving a harmonious household in which you have a cooperative, happy and confident child.

Others suggest that this is better achieved by showering them with love. Psychologist Oliver James came up with a theory that parents should set aside quality time, where the children get to decide what to do, and during which you tell them how much you love them.

He wrote a book on the subject, entitled Love Bombing: Reset Your Child's Emotional Thermostat.

In an interview with the Guardian, Professor James admitted that the technique "seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom", but was quick to explain that "the love bomb zone is separate from ordinary life. Outside the zone, you continue to set boundaries, consistently and firmly".

Whichever approach you take, building confidence seems to be vital to success. After all, self-assured kids are seldom unhappy. Far from it, they feel they have the tools to master problems, make friends and work through life, and are more likely to behave well because of it.

So, how to build self-esteem? The first step is to stop doing everything for them. Although this can certainly be tempting, particularly when you are in a rush, it is the wrong approach. Getting them to carry out tasks themselves - such as getting dressed - gives them a sense of achievement, and that gradually builds self-esteem.

It's not all about independence though. Children need to feel loved in order to flourish, and one of the best ways you can achieve this is to spend some quality time with them. Whether you do this following the love bombing technique, or just sit and play games with them, using the Naughty Step if things get out of hand, is up to you.

While setting aside play time and giving your child your undivided attention builds confidence, which should ultimately improve behaviour, it can also help them perform better at school.

In his book, The Power of Play, David Elkind makes the point that playing games "makes it easier for children to learn in a school setting, where they are interacting with adults and have the basic social skills that are the basis for formal learning".

Play, he said, teaches children "the ability to listen to an adult and to follow instructions, to start a task and bring it to completion on their own, and to work cooperatively with other children".

Djeco has a whole range of toys to suit different age ranges and abilities, which help develop key skills. Their craft kits, for instance, build concentration, boost fine motor skills, and give children a real sense of achievement when they see what they have made.

Make-believe toys, such as Djeco's tea set, kitchen or vet kit, help bolster a child's social skills. Whatever you choose, you get to spend time with your little one and enjoy seeing them flourish.

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