Friday, August 3, 2012

Toddler Games: The Importance of Watching for Frustration

Poor Little Buddy.  He often gets stuck doing what Munchkin Girl is doing, especially as far as arts and crafts are concerned.  I guess that's the nature of being the little brother.  However, last week Grandma was spending the afternoon with Munchkin Girl so I had the afternoon to myself with him.  I pulled out all of our craft and project supplies because I really wanted to give him the chance to do whatever HE wanted to do.
He picked colored Poms and at first I just picked what Munchkin Girl would have used: a clothespin.  The idea was to dump out all the colored Poms and let him put them into the tin.  My daughter loves this game and counts as she goes and it's great for her muscles strength.  At first, he was thrilled.

colored poms for fine motor skills

As you can see, he kept getting confused about which way was up, and which way was down.  He would pinch it, and then when the other side opened, he would turn it upside down.

It wasn't long before he was whining and I was feeling sad that this wasn't turning into the fun bonding afternoon it was supposed to be!  But then I realized that I was seeing first-hand something that my co-author and former Kindergarten teacher, Susan Case covered in our book.  On the chapter about fine motor skills, she said:

    Developing fine motor skills can be frustrating and challenging for some children. Watch your child’s level of frustration. Gradually   
    increase the time of activities. This play/work time needs to be pleasurable, attainable and rewarding so that your child will continue to 
    engage and make progress.

Then it clicked.  Using clothespins just wasn't attainable for him.  It's not something he is capable of so I simply made a switch.  I put the clothespins away and pulled some tongs out of our kitchen drawer.  They aren't something I've used before, but I realized that if Munchkin Girl had been then, Little Buddy probably would have just wandered away to find something else to do so I wouldn't have realized that he wanted to participate but simply couldn't.  Since he was alone, I was more in tune to him.  The difference was amazing.  He was able to use the tongs very well and was SOOO proud of himself.  See how in the first picture none of the Poms were in the tin?  Check out this picture!  He had them in there in no time and did it about three times before he got tired of it!

Not only did we have a great time, but I now fully understand the meaning of "developmentally appropriate activities".

If you want to read more about activities that are good for toddlers and preschoolers, you love my new book (which is currently ranked #6 on Amazon in the category of Motherhood!).  Here is one of the reviews on Amazon so please consider buying your own copy!

5.0 out of 5 stars This Book is a Life-saver! July 10, 2012

This book seriously saved my sanity. I've read a bunch of parenting books but this is literally the only one that actually gave me real and specific advice and ideas for things to do with my daughter. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 2-year old and I was at my wits end trying to come up with ideas of fun, easy, creative things to do with her that will keep her busy and occupied and help her learn. I wasn't very good at following through on ideas that I heard about from friends or read in other books or online because they seemed too complicated (aka: messy!) but this book broke it down and made it so simple. I highly recommend it!

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  1. I am going to have to try this activity with Kiddo, great idea with the tongs!
    Candice @ Lilly Through The Valley

  2. That is great that you picked up on his frustration and gave him the kitchen tongs to try instead. That looks like a fun activity.

    : 0 ) Theresa

  3. Great job in adapting the activity for your son! As a pediatric OT looking at the pictures of him using the clothespins it is clear he doesnt yet have the intrinsic (internal) hand strength needed for clothespins. Tongs are what I would of pulled out too! Keep him squishing and squeezing clay, sponges, water bottles, etc too Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions!

    1. Thanks Christine! I would love to get more advice from you sometime!!