Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Rainbow Fish is a little book with a big message for children and adults. It teaches the joy of sharing.It is a story about the most beautiful fish in the sea. The Rainbow Fish thought he was too beautiful to play with the other fish. He had beautiful shiny scales on his body and he was very proud of them. The other fish asked him to share his scales so that they might be beautiful too. The Rainbow Fish said "no" and treated them with disdain, so the other fish swam away. He became lonely and sad. One day the Rainbow Fish felt so lonely and sad he asked the advice of the wise octopus. The wise octopus suggested if he shared his beautiful scales with the other fish he may discover the source of happiness. So he gave away most of his scales to the other fish, he was no longer the most beautiful fish in the sea but it didn't matter because he was happy.The Rainbow Fish learned the joy of sharing. Here is my favourite little rhyme that I teach when I read this book.
Two Little Friends
Two little friends are better than one,
And three are better than two,
And four are much better still,
Just think!What four little friends can do.

We all have friends who we love being with and as parents we want our children to have great and lasting friendships.Preschoolers make friends quickly and intensely. To your three-year-old, a "friend" is anyone who is willing to play with her the way she wants to play at the moment. It could be someone she sees every day in the neighborhood or at day care. But it could just as well be someone she meets just once while playing in the park or playground or children's museum. (Even if she never sees that child again, your three-year-old may continue to refer to the child as "my friend.") Your preschoolers friends are just as likely to be boys as girls, because most three-year-olds play with either sex equally well and seldom have a preference for one or the other. Friendships, no matter how fleeting, are important to preschoolers. Early childhood isolation—whether self-imposed, created by parental inattention, or caused by the rejection of other children—will not only be painful in the present, but may lead to emotional problems in the future as well. So encourage your child to form friendships. Because most three-year-olds make friends so easily, you may not need to do that much to help other than offering her the opportunity to meet other children.

Friends - Encourage imagination
Preschoolers have vivid imaginations. They pretend things are different from what they are. Cardboard boxes become castles, dolls become fairy princesses with magic wands. Doing it by themselves is great but a friend helps more. When two children get together, their imagination multiplies. Each child brings in new perspectives and thoughts that lets their creativity grow and flower. Even preschoolers who are just sitting next to each other and playing, can trigger each other's imagination.

Hold my hand
Sometimes children can be timid or reticent to do something that is new, like a new activity in the playground. But the presence of a friend, somehow makes these challenges appear much smaller. When one child does it, the other one learns that it is doable and their resistance disappears. While many parents look at this as risky, as one child may lead another to a risky venture, the positives far outweigh any perceived negatives. This group experience also teaches children the importance of a team and how team members can motivate each other.

Teach sharing and compromise
Children do not always share objects easily even when playing with friends. As parents, we tend to focus on the times when our children and their friends argue over a toy or a book, the negatives. But often, they do tend to share and they learn to take turns with the toy or book under argument. Also, while your child may not realize it, she is also learning to compromise. In a pretend play situation like a doctor and patient. Children will negotiate so that one child is a doctor, while the other has to be a patient who just lies down. A patient can be a boring role, but a required role. Or they may compromise in a different way with both being doctors and using a doll as a patient. Either way, they learn that each has their own desires and that unless they reconcile them, they will not be able to play together.

The power of the many
While preschoolers typically do not form cliques or act as bullies in a traditional sense, some maybe timid while others maybe more assertive. Having friends around helps the timid ones state their complaint loudly, if an assertive kid is taking their turn or grabs a book from them. Similarly, it helps the assertive kid, because his friends may tell him that he should not grab or snatch things from other children. Either way, friends step in and help a child reach socially desired behaviour.

As parents what we need to keep in mind is that it is important even for very young children to have friends, instead of playing by themselves or with you. Yes, they do need to play by themselves. Yes, they do need to play and bond with you. But they also need to play with friends as they get trained for a social world. So do make the effort as parents to help your child interact with friends.

What if my child has difficulty making friends?
If your young child has difficulty interacting with other kids, you can help, too, and it will be worthwhile. Playing with friends is an important way for children to learn social rules such as sharing and taking turns. It's also fun.The key is taking small and gentle steps that encourage positive social interaction without being too pushy. You want to give your child opportunities for rewarding social experiences that will leave him wanting more rather than feeling pressured to do something he finds difficult. Your child may be shy or cautious by nature, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rather than try to change your child's personality, you can help him stretch just enough to discover the joys of relationships with peers.Here are some practical tips for helping your child form friendships:

  • Keep play dates small. Start by inviting only one or two prospective pals to your house, preferably kids your child already knows.
  • Plan ahead. Orient the play date around games and activities your child enjoys and is good at. This will make him more comfortable and keep him feeling good about himself.
  • Get involved. Don't just leave the kids to play by themselves and hope for the best. Your guidance can make children feel more at ease with each other, especially if they're new friends. Make yourself available in case they run into conflicts, get distracted and stop playing together, or need a change of activity.
  • Get a schedule, then get going. To develop familiarity, try to arrange regular play dates with the same kids on a weekly basis. If things are going well, meet in a park or playground or at another child's house.
  • Be a play date yourself. Have regular play times with your child, just the two of you. This allows you to stimulate interaction while getting to know his playing style.
  • Consider getting a pet. Some young children just aren't ready to play with peers. If your child clings to you and refuses to leave your side, consider adding a furry friend to the family. Playing with pets requires social interaction but is usually nonthreatening.
  • Have your own friends over. Since young children pay close attention to what grown-ups do and often imitate their behavior, model for your child by having your friends over, especially in ways that include the younger generation.
  • Try not to expect too much. Preschool-age children play mostly side by side, imitating each other rather than playing together directly

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