Learning to play follow the leader
Parents can help boost their child’s self-esteem and confidence by following the child’s lead, according to Goodstart Early Learning national manager professional practice Greg Antcliff.
The method, in which parents watch their child and respond to them, lets the child know their parent is interested in what they are doing, and can vastly improve relationships.
Mr Antcliff said some of the outcomes from the practice included boosting self-esteem and confidence and increases in the quality of parent-child interactions.
“Following your child’s lead means watching the child and responding to what they say or do in a meaningful way. It goes beyond just giving descriptive praise and involves eye contact and body language to let the child know the parent is paying attention to them,” Mr Antcliff said.
“All of these things combine to show the child that they are great company and that the parent is deeply interested in what they are doing.
“This in turn helps to build confidence and trust.”
An example of following a child’s lead would be “I see you are pushing the blue truck”. This connects the child’s words to her actions, that she has good play ideas and can boost self-esteem and confidence.
So how and when should parents follow their child’s lead?
Mr Antcliff said the easiest approach to this method was to do it during unstructured moments or free play, or during moments of exploration throughout the day, and choose topics the child is interested in.
“We follow their interests; give them smiles or what we term “a good face” and come in close when needed. We use warm tones and we name what they do,” he said.
In Part Two of a four-part series, Mr Antcliff will share some tips of giving children praise.
- Allow your child to choose a game or activity wherever possible and when safe, and let them decide on the rules and how the game is played.
- Get down to the children’s level and make eye contact as much as possible.
- Talk about the activity you are taking part in to show your child that you’re interested.
- Bite-sized moments work best – even just a couple of minutes at a time can be effective.
- Choose age-appropriate activities that are fun for both the children and the parent.
Acknowledgement for each Practice in Action Guide (PIAG) –
This PIAG was adapted with permission form the Parenting Research Centre and the Benevolent Society from The Benevolent Society’s Resilience Practice Framework: A framework to promote resilience in children and families, Guides
, 1 – 6, 2015.
These educational resource guides are based on the original guides in PracticeWise Evidence-Based Services (PWEBS) database, drawn from child and family therapeutic intervention outcomes studies (PracticeWise, 2009), adapted with permission by the Parenting Research Centre and The Benevolent Society.
For further information see www.benevolent.org.au/resilience and www.parentingrc.org.au
Maria Aarts, 2008, Marte Meo Basic Manual 2nd Edition, Marte Meo International, Netherlands.