Nurturing Self-Expression

Young children are at a wonderful stage of life in which they are learning to express themselves in many ways.  As infants and toddlers, they mainly respond to what they found in front of them.  Over time, with the new tool of language and the more complex thinking skills that come with it, their world of ideas is broadens.

Language

Words provide an anchor for thoughts.  Vocabulary grows with new experiences.  Along with providing your child with interesting experiences, you can be most helpful by acting like a “play by play announcer” providing words for your child’s perceptions.  Describe what your child is doing and use rich descriptive words about size, color, shape, texture.  Help your child recognize and talk about feelings and to know that there are no “bad” feelings. Anger, sadness, frustration, fear, as well as happiness, excitement and joy are all part of the human feelings menu.  Kindermusik books and puppets can be fun tools to help children express themselves with words.

Music & Movement

Making music and moving to music are some of the most basic ways in which children express themselves – like bouncing, rocking, and moving to music.  You can encourage this by playing different kinds of music – starting with diverse and culturally different songs found on your Kindermusik Home CD.  Encourage your child to dance – and join in!  Use scarves, simple props and your special Kindermusik instrument to make it more fun.

Singing is a tradition of every culture in the world and a powerful way in which people express emotions.  Sing along to your home CD and discuss the feelings that come from each song.

Art & Constructive Play

Children can express how they’re feeling using paints, crayons, play dough, art media or playsets.  Some creations may be rather “abstract” but valuable nonetheless.  Also, as they play with blocks and construction toys, children give shape to their ideas.  It’s not necessary to tell your child what to make, but rather be interested and ready to be surprised.  Invite your child to tell you about his or her creation.  Granted, sometimes she will have nothing at all in mind, but will simply be experimenting with the materials.  Interesting stories may emerge.  Offer to take dictation and write down what your child says to show your interest in her ideas.

Play

Both boys and girls use pretend play as a primary way to express themselves. Play themes should be your child’s domain.  Try not to edit her play unless you are genuinely uncomfortable with what is going on or it threatens to hurt someone or break something.  Support her play by providing a variety of things to use such as music, dress-up clothes and hats, large boxes and props.  Become a play partner yourself.

All these experiences give your child the message that her ideas are interesting and valuable.  As an appreciative and listening parent, you are giving your child the skill and the disposition to express herself in appropriate ways – skills that will help her throughout life.

– written for Kindermusik International by Karen Miller, Early Childhood Expert, Consultant, and Author

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