The holidays bring with them extra things to do. It’s always a wonderful idea to include the children whenever possible. At the same time, it’s nice to have the option of having time to yourself and yet knowing your children are happy and contented.
Some years back I came up with the term “YES” Environments
“YES” Environments are spaces for children which are age-appropriate and allow for educational, fun and independent play.
These give freedom to both child and parent.
I’ve found that when the play environment is inviting, and age- appropriate it allows for the child/ren to play independently of the parents. This can create a most rewarding result, which is Fun 4 Kids and Freedom 4 Parents!
THESE ENVIRONMENTS WORK BEST
WHEN YOU HAVE GIVEN SUFFICIENT ONE-ON-ONE TIME
TO YOUR CHILD
OVER THE COURSE OF TIME!
(this will be the topic of a future blog post)
As I’ve reflected on the days when my children were little, I realized that I was a parent who needed some time to myself each day. What I would do is set up environments where my children could be free, happy and independent. Then I could enjoy their joy and delight as I observed them at play. They were always in my eye’s view, but I could be doing something independently. Such environments decrease children having to be dependent on the adult for every little thing. In addition, such an environment allows children to be self-reliable and somewhat independent.
Characteristics of "YES"
A “YES” Environment allows a child to be engaged in fun age-appropriate independent activities. Thus, their behavior, for the most part, is accepted and agreeable to those around. They here YES” much more than they hear “NO”!
A “YES” environment allows a child to learn through trial and error, exploring his/her capabilities and to discover what s/he is able to do, without fear of rejection or ridicule. This keeps him/her interested, contented and happy.
A “YES” environment allows the adult to be a “watchful observer”, sitting back, observing the child/ren and yet they are not the center of the child’s world during this time. This gives freedom to both child and parent.
A “YES” environment develops a child’s self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem, because their actions are allowed, appreciated and respected.
Setting up a “YES” Environment for Children
A “YES” environment can be created in a variety of places in your home. Actually each and every room can be a “YES” environment in some way. My first child had cerebral palsy and was not mobile for many years. Because I would often move him from room to room with me, I wanted to always have a place for him to play and enjoy himself. Thus I made every room in our home a “YES” space. In this way he was always able to have freedom wherever we were in our home.
OBSERVE your children and see what their play choices are in your home.
ASK yourself these questions as you observe your children at play:
1. Which rooms do they most often play in?
2. What are the activities they most enjoy?
3. Do they need to ask you for help often?
4. What are the challenges they have during play time?
5. Is it possible to set the room/s up in a way that allows for them to be more independent? More self-reliant?
6. Does the present environment work for them?
7. Does the play environment allow for them to be creative?
8. Does the play environment bring on boredom quickly?
RECORD your observations and your ideas. Putting your ideas on paper makes them tangible. You can refer to these in the future without having to rethink all that you observed.
The most workable rooms for such an environment might be the child’s bedroom, the family room and/or living room. Wherever it is that your family hangs out most of the time is a good place for a “YES” environment.
Children love being with Mom and Dad, Grandma or Grandpa, so developing a play and work-space nearby is the best solution for all in most cases.
CREATING THE YES ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR CHILDREN:
1. Review the information you gained from your observation & think of how you could create an independent and fun space for your family.
2. Hold a Family Meeting with your children and talk about creating such a play space for them. Ask them what they’d like to have in it. Make suggestions too, based on your observations.
3. Consider the following possible ideas for your YES Environment, when talking to your children.
· Library of books
· Desk space / table space / sized to fit your child
· Pens/ papers/ art supplies / All easily accessible
· Games/ easy to reach
* Puppet stage/ puppets
· Building blocks, Lego sets
· Cards games
· Various art supplies to create with
(If you take the time to teach your child/ren how to play with various materials /games over a period of time, they will honor the guidelines in most cases)
When children have activities that are of interest to them, set up in a way that allows for their creativity and independence, they feel empowered to express and enjoy themselves.
“YES” Environments do give children and adults the freedom to be their unique, individualistic self!
As I observe families in various settings, I see that in many homes, the children are extremely dependent on the parents; dependent for paper, crayons, tape, etc. (even at 7, 8 and 9 years of age)
WHY might this happen? Do the parents “want” such dependence, so they feel needed? Perhaps they don’t know it could be another way. Or, perhaps they have not given sufficient one-on-one time to their children at other times. If a child does not have enough attention from the parent, the child will get it however he/she can.