Thursday 17 April 2014


When we were being matched with Missy, her SW explained that whilst her BM had lots of toys at home, many were not age appropriate and Missy was not really shown how to play with them.  Its thought that BM didn't play with her much at all.  Whilst with the FC, she certainly learnt how to play more, and play with other children but her desire for control made it difficult sometimes to play with her.  When she came home to us, we, as new parents, spent ages playing with her although again her need to control the game sometimes caused major tantrums.  What we also noticed was the she didn't seem to like playing by herself, immersing herself in the world of make-believe and playing with her toys.  Play is vital for development; it helps create happy, contented, balanced, connected children.  The skills they they learn through play are vital as they grow into adulthood. The building blocks of play are the building blocks of life.

Over time, Missy has developed an ability to play by herself.  There have been times when we've been gardening and I've looked through the lounge window to check on her and seen her playing tea parties with her toys, all the cups and plates and pretend food set out beautifully. Or she'll be playing with her dolls house or her little ponies.  She has made the choice about which toy to play with and how she is going to play. It makes me smile to see her playing like this.

However, in the last six weeks her play by herself has almost stopped. I don't know why, perhaps it's anxiety based but her anxiety has reduced considerably since the Celebration Hearing. She still plays but it will be because we've started the play and virtually led the play too.  She will rarely chose a toy for herself and if I suggest a few toys or things to do, the answer I get is usually a resounding 'NO'.  They say boredom is good for a child because it means they have to use their imaginations to entertain themselves, but boredom and Missy don't mix.

Missy likes to hang around us a lot. I get followed everywhere.  I know this is generally a good sign - it's the toddler in her - but boy is it tiring and I really want her to play. We had Daddy's sister and her partner here for three days and all Missy wanted to do was be next to her Auntie, despite much encouragement from me to play.  It's not that I don't want her to create a relationship with other family members but I'm mindful of the importance of play and it's role in her development.  I've tried to start her off with play and gently move to another area to do something else, occasionally  returning to join in but all too quickly she'll stop and be by my side.  I don't want to continually be creating the play because I want her to use her imagination.  I know she's got one because I've seen it in her artwork.

As part of the course Daddy and I are doing, our homework for the holidays is play-based.  For 10-20 minutes a day, we encourage Missy to play and join in but do not lead play or teach her anything new.  Whilst playing we encourage, give praise and essentially provide a running commentary, along the lines of  "So you've chosen a red brick", "Now you're giving teddy some cake", "I see you're rolling out the Play-Doh into a sausage" etc etc.  We don't ask lots of questions about what she is doing, but show interest via the commentary.   At first it felt quite odd, describing what she is doing all the time but I soon got the hang of it.  When we've been out and about - a long walk, a day out in London, visiting a museum -  I've also used the commentary technique.

The point of this exercise is not about showing her how to play, but aiming to build the relationship between us all and building her self-esteem.  But a side effect is that she is gradually returning to play, choosing her toys and playing by herself.

It's slow-going though and yesterday I was thoroughly exhausted initiating things to do, when I really just wanted to sit quietly in the sun by myself, reading my books with a cup of coffee, although I was quite proud of the tent I made with an old sheet and bamboo canes!   Eventually though, I admitted defeat and for some quiet I put CBeebies on for half an hour.  She's back to CBeebies now after a brief flirtation with CBBC.

We'll see how today pans out.

In other news, my vegetable patch is coming on nicely.

"Image courtesy of Akarakingdoms /". 


  1. This made me smile, and then my smile broadened fabulously at the last sentence. Lovely ending :)

  2. Wonderful, I'm happy things are going so well for you! :)


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