Teaching a child to play with confidence will give them advantages that will last the rest of their lives. Confidence is important for everyone, whether it is a toddler gearing up the courage to go down a slide or a grown woman about to start an interview for a new job. Confidence, in fact, begins as a child. Here are a few tips to help your child learn confidence on the playground.
1. Just let them play.
One of the best ways to encourage confident active play is just to let kids get out there and get moving. Kids need to run, climb, explore, fall, get back up again, and have fun. Often, parents can be understandably overly cautious. They do not want their child taking risks on the playground (monkey bars for instance) because they do not want the child running to them crying, with a bloody nose or a skinned knee. Understandably, parents want to protect their children from pain. But the truth is that children will be far more able to avoid future accidents if they take a few hard knocks in the beginning. Children will learn to get back up again after a fall or a misstep and keep going.
2. Encourage adventure.
Some children are naturally less inclined to take risks than others. This is definitely okay and children should not be physically forced to go outside their comfort zone if they are obviously afraid. But every now and then it is important to encourage your child to take a risk that they would not take on their own. Invite your child to take a sled ride down a steep hill on your lap. Remove your hands (but stay close) if you are helping them traverse the monkey bars. Offer your child a small treat if they jump into the pool although it terrifies them. Parental encouragement can go a long way in helping your child embrace adventure.
3. Help them face their fears.
The first step here is to look back at #1. Let your children play – and even let them take risks – without showing fear (unless your child is in serious danger). If a child senses your fear, they will be more likely to be afraid as well. It is important to teach your child safety precautions, but it is also important to do so with confidence. It is also important to remember that if your child has failed at a particular activity – if they have fallen a mini rock-climbing wall, for example – they will probably feel some fear in trying that activity again. Gently encourage your child to try, try again. Offer your help at first to prevent another failure. But eventually, your child will overcome their fear and learn to do it by themselves.
4. Teach them to avoid comparison.
An important part of teaching children to play confidently is to teach children to play with other children. Children may get discouraged watching peers do things they cannot do. They become hurt trying to do things they are not ready for yet or they become discontent with their own capabilities. It is important to help your child see that each child on the playground is different from the next. Each one has different skills. Their skills are not to be compared with the skills’ of others unless it is in a friendly competition that is fun for everyone. Help your child use their peers’ skills as motivation to keep learning instead of a reason to become discouraged.
5. Give kids the opportunity to learn how to channel their energy.
Kids can play most safely and most confident when they know how to use their energy best. This is a learning process, just like learning how to walk. Babies can get around by crawling, but soon they find that it is more efficient to walk. Kids who take fitness and/or movement classes will be far more able to play with confidence. Kids who have the opportunity just to let themselves go and play to their hearts’ content in a supervised place will soon what is helpful and fun and what is now. For just this kind of opportunity, consider Kids ‘N Shape.
Kids ‘N Shape provides birthday parties, summer camps, class trips, classes, and more where kids can learn how to play with complete confidence. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Kids ‘N Shape. We love helping kids play to their maximum potential.