What do you notice about your child’s play? Recently, I’ve been thinking about how they always push themselves to learn that little bit extra. Have you noticed this?

Or maybe your child doesn’t do that. Maybe your child still plays with the toys they were playing with when they were 3 months old, in the same way they did then. But I doubt it. There’s always some kind of progress. “I can push this toy to here, can I push it to there?” “I can hit it that way, can I hit it this way?” “I can get those shapes into those holes now, can I recognise the holes?” “Can I turn the box to put the right hole at the top?”

Without thinking about it, without pressure to achieve, without fear of judgment if they ‘don’t bother’, our children grow. They push themselves just outside their capabilities. Then, when they master something, they step it up and try something new.

Do you ever notice your child going back to doing something they’ve been able to do for ages? Maybe even suddenly not being able to do that thing anymore, or asking you to do it? Why do you think this happens? What might be going on for them when they want to return to something safer, more certain?

What can we learn from this?

It’s made me curious: when do we start doubting ourselves?

When do we stop believing that it’s our innate nature to learn, develop and grow? When do we start fearing that, if we’re not hard on ourselves, we won’t do anything and we’ll just sit around all day, idol?

And is this true? Is this actually your experience? Or are there things that you do now that you couldn’t do a month or a year ago? Even ‘small’ things like trying a new recipe, walking a different route somewhere, developing your reflective parenting skills. What do you think has motivated you to do those things? Was it fear of being judged if you didn’t do them? Or was it a joy of learning? A thirst for knowledge and growth? It’s not always easy and we don’t always succeed at first and I wonder what makes us persevere?

Why do you think the ‘small’ skills are classed as ‘small’? When the ‘big’ things like learning to drive, running a half marathon, playing an instrument are classed as ‘big’? Who decides what’s worthy of achievement status in your world?

When do you get to celebrate all the things you’ve achieved, big and small?

It also made me wonder: if we are in a place where we’re doing ‘nothing’, why might that be?

Think back to your child and when they ‘regress’, what’s your understanding of that?

My understanding would be that maybe there’s too much going on for them at that point, emotionally, developmentally, physically, and so maybe they just need to do something easy. Maybe they need reminding that there are things they’re good at, and that Mummy or Daddy is always there to help, even if it’s something that seems easy.

So maybe that’s the same for us? If we are having a day (or week) where we just can’t get off the sofa, is it possible that there’s too much going on for us at that time as well?

If so, what do you think we need in that time? What would you give your child? Would you shout at them and tell them to get a grip? They can do this? Why are they being so lazy and stupid? Or would you say ‘do you know what, sometimes things feel really hard don’t they? I know you can do this and I can see that you want some help with it anyway, I get that and I love you’?

What do you think the outcome of each one would be on your child? And on yourself?

There are so many things that we can learn from our children’s play, this is just one thing to notice.

What do you think about this?

What thoughts has it triggered in you? Let me know here, or on Facebook or Instagram – I’d love to hear from you.