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Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Baby Einstein Puppets

Today I got to employ a preschool trick. It's for children who are shy, sad, or just not opening up. Here's how it went:

Child (34mo) is crying because he doesn't want a bath, he won't listen to anyone. I grab a paper plate that I had painted Winnie the Pooh's face on the other day.
Winnie the Pooh: Hi, [Child's name]
Child (stops crying): Hi, Winnie the Pooh. I'm sad.
WP: You look a little sad.
Child: I don't want to take a bath
WP: You get to take a bath! I love baths!
Child: Me too!
Child and Winnie talked for awhile, and then child took a bath.

Why this worked:
Toddlers and preschool aged children sometimes have trouble expressing their feelings. When things are happening too quickly against their will (like a bath they don't want), it overwhelms them. They can't get their words out, so they cry, scream, or tantrum instead. The child doesn't want to listen to you, because you are trying to get them to do something against their will. A puppet is a neutral third party. In this case, the child just wanted his feelings recognized. Plus, he's really in to WP right now, so if WP says it's fun to take a bath, then it must be.

Young children have trouble separating reality from pretend (this is why children under five don't understand sarcasm or lying). A puppet is someone nonthreatening they can talk to. They feel a sense of kinship with their small friend. It doesn't matter if the puppet has your voice, to them the puppet is a whole other being. They know it's on your hand, but they don't see it as you. This is how a shy child will open up to a puppet, but not the person controlling it.

If you have a toddler/preschooler, consider making puppets too! Just be aware that a mask is not a puppet. Babies and young toddlers are frightened of masks because it is a distortion of your features. It looks like you have been mutated. Even a Santa Claus mask worn over your face can traumatize a littler one.

Great puppets can be made from anything, but most are made from paper bags or socks. Have fun!

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