“The best preparation for a bad experience is a good experience.”
By Rinna Sanchez-Baluyut, Teacher
Many parents worry about how their children will cope in a challenging situation. Many have asked what to do to prepare their children to face difficult times as they mature into teenagers and adulthood. Renowned child psychologist David Elkind addressed this issue last October in a talk at Foothill College; he offered a perspective on what is truly important in children’s lives.
Elkind, PhD, a professor at Tuft University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, is the famed author of many books including The Hurried Child and Ties That Stress: The New Family Imbalance. Elkind stated that the more positive experiences we give children in their early years, the more successful they will be at overcoming difficulties later on in life. According to Elkind, play gives children a whole library of positive memories. Play has a long-range influence, whereby children are able to retrieve these happy memories in times of stress. Play is a healthy release mechanism and an important activity that all children need.
Unfortunately, more and more children are being deprived of play. Elkind cited that some 40,000 children in public schools do not have recess, thereby losing valuable time for play. Not only are we hurrying children but we’re also denying them the healthy development of self-expression, he said. Elkind added that today’s toys do not reflect children. These toys don’t encourage creative play; they’re simply recreational, like electronic toys. Creative play is an expression of our personal feelings and issues, but when toys are recreational, they don’t reflect children’s feelings.
What can we do?
Make each child feel important. Respect and trust your child. Allow for play. Let children be children. Provide opportunities on all levels for creative play by offering basic materials, such as blocks, paint, sand, water, where children can truly create their own experiences. Provide them with a solid foundation of happy memories and positive experiences they can always look back on in preparation for their next challenge.