Saturday, December 1, 2012

Small People Love Small Places

It was a great day when my husband brought home a big, empty box from the appliance store! There were three preschoolers in the family at the time and they took one look and knew just what they wanted. They wanted to be inside that box! The cardboard lasted a couple of weeks before falling to bits. It became a play house, pirate ship, and school bus.

Then there was the two month period when my daughter practically lived in the wooden cradle we brought home for her soon-to-be little brother. She took everything she needed into that cradle to stay busy: toys, crayons, books, stuffed animals. Busy, she stayed. And happy, too, for quite a while every day!
As our children got to be a little older, they still gravitated toward those spots that made their play more private, cozy. In the yard, was a huge cedar tree with drooping branches. The ground under the tree was soft and dry. It was a great place to play, hidden away from the rest of the world.

I always thought it was cute to see kids playing happily in a place all their own. But now, I realize there was more to it than that. Kids need to feel safe and in control of their surroundings now and then. As an adult, can you imagine what it would feel like to experience something new every day in a giant, noisy world? I know I get overwhelmed sometimes by the fast pace and extreme-ness of life. My safe place is the snug corner of my couch. I often go there with a piping hot cup of coffee!
Of course, we as parents want to challenge and stimulate our children. We want them to keep exploring and experiencing our giant, noisy, wonderful world. They do have to grow up after all!

But, there are also times when we need to provide them with an environment they can totally manage on their own. Let them feel safe in a niche just their size. Give them a place where they can create and pretend. You’ll be amazed at the growing that can take place there, too.  
So what do you say? Isn’t today a good day to drape that bed sheet over the table and watch the kids disappear into their own little kingdom?


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