I was recently looking into some resources for early childhood development and discovered a program from Washington state that was based on a concept I have seen grow in popularity. This particular program called Love. Talk. Play. was cut due to budget constraints but I believe the concept is something important that I am calling "the most overlooked parenting tip."
Allow me to offer a summary. The program was created because licensers and educators met so many parents that felt overwhelmed with parenting to the point that they wanted to give up. Between the pressure of (let's face it) not screwing up their kids, following the latest trendy discipline techniques, and enduring the chaos at home and in their planners, parents felt lost on how to be effective (and I'll add purposeful) parents.
"Essentially, an abundance of resources had convinced parents that if they weren't following a million complicated programs for their child's development, they were failing as parents"
This caused many to overlook the easiest parenting tip ever...And so those educators developed the Love. Talk. Play. program. The basic idea is that the easiest parenting tip you can follow is to follow your child's lead...All you have to do is love your child, talk to your child, and play with your child everyday, and you will do wonders for their social, emotional, and cognitive growth. Now THIS is a program I can get behind! Talk about simple, actionable tips that help you #investinyourchild!
In this post, we will take a look at each word and some of the resources that support this concept, hopefully sparking some dialogue. Let's get into it!
Showing your kids that you love them is the most important part of the program and the ultimate goal in parenting so this one naturally comes first. Talking and Playing really become ways to show your children love, though they serve additional purposes as well. Why is love so important? Studies have shown that love and nurturing behavior towards your children actually helps to develop their brains! Specifically, it helps the part of their brain that will help them handle stress, which has physical, mental, and emotional impact. Loving and nurturing your babies and young children, especially when they are worried and stressed is actually one of the best ways to help them "toughen up" because they will develop the neural pathways to be able to handle stress.
It's amazing what love can do for our children, and things like using kind words and soothing tone (especially in stressful situations), responding with interest, and interacting can have profound impact on the brain development and overall success of our children.
Talking to your children isn't always easy - let's get that out now. You come home from a long day at work and your little one is crying for attention and your elementary age children are talking your head off. It can be very difficult to want to engage, especially in a stressful situation, but brain studies show that communication with infants is the primary developing factor in the part of the brain that handles language. Talking is important for infants especially because it helps develop their brain (baby talk and regular, old, adult talk).
Talking to your elementary-age child is also important because it demonstrates love and shows interest in their life. Just have a conversation like you would with your friend when your child brings up something that interests them, and you will see immediate impact on their confidence, obedience, and trust. It's important to avoid the temptation to yell or to shut them down when they want to communicate. Encouraging healthy communication not only teaches conversation and interpersonal softskills, but it also reinforces the idea that your child can approach you about their life (which will be helpful when they are teenagers). Remember that even when you feel empty, it's really valuable to get on their level and just have a conversation.
This one is SO important and something I'm really passionate about for a number of reasons. When we play with infants, we strength the loving bond between parent and child and make them feel safe. When we play with children, we encourage them in their interests and help them develop their unique personality. When we play "pretend" with them, we help develop the creative part of their brain and encourage them to be imaginative thinkers. I think it also helps adults escape the stress of work and life! Quality time in general is the best way to love your children and the easiest way to be a Purposeful Parent, because it develops the physical, mental, and emotional health of a child.
This week's Purposeful Parenting Action
1. Schedule weekly (or better yet, daily) quality time with your child.
Go to that children's museum or park, play that family board game they love, sit down with your infant after work and just interact. Read that book. Most of all, talk and listen and the simple love you show will have a lifetime of impact.
This week's Ron Clark rule
Rule 6 "If you are asked a question in conversation, you should ask a question in return"
I love this program and I'm so happy I stumbled upon it - it totally fits what we want to do as a blog community in simplifying and demystifying what it means to parent. The most overlooked parenting tip? Love. Talk. Play. with your children and you will do wonders for their social, emotional, and cognitive growth.
Comment below your thoughts on this program. What value do you see in trying to implement purposeful time to love, talk, and play?
See you in the comments!