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  • Writer's pictureAlana Taylor

Can toddlers change their mind

Have you ever found yourself making the assumption that your baby/toddler strongly dislikes something, or even has an aversion to something?

Yep, me too!

Firstly, let me start by saying, I do completely trust my child to make his own decisions and I will fully respect his likes and dislikes as they develop. Sometimes, I think that it is also important to allow some time, multiple opportunities as well as challenges to be sure we aren’t “jumping the gun” in forming these opinions.

Secondly, we acknowledge that some children need more than just multiple opportunities and sensory issues can be really tough to navigate. Today we are unpacking our sensory play journey.

My child hates sensory play!

Really early on it was very obvious that my child was uncomfortable engaging his senses, especially with sand play and different textures. It bloody triggered me! I grew up in the times of way less technology, huge backyard, forest at my doorstep, my arvo snack was picking onion grass and blackberries and climbing trees was my most favourite pastime. A time where life was more innocent and play time ended when your parents hollered your name down the street as you cringed with embarrassment. Add to that my experience in early childhood, I am almost too well aware of the importance of engaging with natural elements and the environment.

Why is nature play important for children?

When exploring what are the benefits of outdoor natural learning environments, the Early Years Learning Framework explains " Play spaces in natural environments include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water and other elements from nature. These spaces invite open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature. They foster an appreciation of the natural environment, develop environmental awareness and provide a platform for ongoing environmental education."

So knowing all of this, what did I do, I freaked out! I felt like I had done something to cause this reaction to sensory play and I questioned my parenting. I questioned the amount of time I spent outside, I blamed numerous Melbourne lockdowns and I really worried.

So I’m here to share that although I made an initial assumption, I was proactive about combating his reaction and inevitably not giving up and assuming this was “just something he didn’t like”. I actively sort out classes and activities that I could offer him to increase exposure in a supportive, gentle and nurturing way. I excepted that he may continue to dislike this kind of play or even have an aversion to it but what I wouldn’t accept is that I gave up and didn’t try.

How to help my child enjoy sensory play

We attended almost weekly classes at grow with play (sensory class) where although he avoided most of the really good setups, like slime and pasta, he had the opportunity to observe his peers and try things slowly at his own pace. We spent heaps more time outside and even purchased a playground for his 1st birthday to encourage him to walk on grass. (Yep, he really found grass overwhelming too) I bought a fislat table and rotated sensory ideas as much as possible, we jumped full force into baby led weaning and arts and crafts. Fast forward and I now have a child that not only willingly engages his senses, he actively seeks out this type of play.

I am well aware that our story will not resonate with everyone and I know some children will have sensory issues that require professional support. This is just our story about likes and dislikes. A good reminder to find a comfortable and respectful balance in accepting our child’s choices whilst ensuring we subject them to multiple opportunities to engage. Sometimes we just need more chances to try something and sometimes we have to identity that what is occurring is bigger and will need a different perspective.

Can you relate? Is there anything you jumped the gun on? Insert image of my now sand obsessed child!

Moral of our story?

Sometimes young children just need more chances to try something in a low pressure, safe environment.

By Jem @cretae4me_

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