How to support kids' play

Courtesy photo

Spending time outdoors with your children is beneficial, especially during these unusual times.

I am a psychotherapist who works in Golden Willow Counseling and Taos Behavioral Health, supporting adults, families, and children to assimilate, adapt and adjust to the changes that have been happening in the community.

There are changes in the community and in the world that are affecting the style of living and interaction in a regular home. People can get tired and annoyed by doing repetitive activities and strategies to entertain kids at home. Although kids and parents can get frustrated and overwhelmed because some activities are limited due to the pandemic, there are ways to explore and experience new activities or skills between the family members.

For instance, kids need their creativity fluid to develop motivation and confidence. Parents can encourage kids to explore old toys, the garden/yard area and other nature spots around the home to help kids to discover different likes and interests. It can develop motivation and curiosity in his/her surrounding, rather than staying inside playing video games or watching TV most of the time. Something else that increases curiosity and creativity in boundaries due to the pandemic is the use of crafting tools to do collages, puppets, drawing, painting and also building puzzles. The use of puzzles collaborates with kids to be more focused, creative and patient. Patience and tolerance are important to build resiliency, especially lately, considering that kids are processing and adjusting to new limitations in the community.

Secondly, physical activity is a strong need to grow up, release energy, develop coordination of muscles and to discover new interests and likes. Those physical activities can be reflected in hiking, camping, fishing with parents, jumping with one foot, riding a bike, dancing at home, doing yoga, running and doing exercises. Kids need to be supported, encouraged and guided as well while doing physical activities with appropriate use of social distance.

Another alternative option to support kids playing or interacting at home is when parents can include their children in some parents' home activities especially when it is not a real need. For instance, asking the kids if they would like to help a parent to fix something in the house, to cook something or to carry something, would make a child busy, useful, powerful and encouraged to support the family. It would help kids to be aware of other things to do rather than narrowing the options of activities. Something else that could keep kids entertained is the interaction with pets at home. Small pets like fishes or turtles and bigger pets like dogs would help kids to develop friendly responsibilities at home.

Last, but not the least, kids need support to process and assimilate the changes that are happening in the community and the world due to the pandemic. Therefore, it is recommendable for parents to validate kids' feelings and emotions that they could be dealing with during the last months of staying at home. Kids could show feelings or emotions like frustration, boredom, tiredness, anger, sadness, worries and so on. Therefore, empathy and validation would be the base to build communication and harmony in the family environment. As a result, kids would be heard, recognized and supported playfully and emotionally to be creative and motivated to play.

Taos Behavioral Health is an agency where you can count on different services. The therapists and practitioners are trained to support adults, teenagers, children and families in the community. In the case of kids, the agency has the divisions of The Family and Youth Center and Family Y Mundo, where you can find therapeutic and community support services for the kids and their families as well. To obtain more information, the office phone number is (575) 758-4297 and the website is taosbehavioralhealth.org.

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