DUPLO asks BlogHer Moms to Answer Your Parenting Questions

BlogHer moms know how important it is to stimulate creativity and intellectual development. That's why we've partnered with LEGO® DUPLO® to bring you a place to share your ideas with other moms and find new ways to teach your kids in a fun and entertaining way!

Meet NieNie from the NieNie Dialogues, Mary from OwlHaven, and Stephanie from Totally Together Journal. They're here to answer all of your questions on how to get your kids to unplug and use their own imagination.

This week we welcome Stephanie from Totally Together Journal!

A hundred million years ago, I ran child care centers for families in need. One of these centers was housed in transitional housing, and the children that I worked with daily needed a lot of hugs, guidance, and support.

They also needed a way to "get it all out." My job was to create a safe environment where children could play with peers, learn new developmental skills, and express feelings.

One of the best ways to facilitate conversation with young children is to keep their hands busy. I'd find that if I brought out a bin of toys, such as LEGO® DUPLO®, the child I was working with would relax and start stacking. Start sorting. Start recreating past events (happy as well as not-so-happy). Shoulders would relax, guards would let down, and words and feelings would tumble out.

I still use DUPLO® at home to begin touchy conversations. When either of my own girls are having a tough day, and I can't seem to figure out why, I dig out the bin of DUPLO® (DUPLO is for kids 1 ½ and up and they are double the size of regular LEGO® bricks) and LEGO® sets (many of which are leftovers from my own childhood!) and lay on the floor and begin stacking and building. The girls always join in eventually, and we sometimes build for a good 10 minutes without much talk other than, "please pass the red one," before the source of angst is revealed. Thankfully, the problems my children have are quite minute compared to the ones I've dealt with in the past, but I'm so thankful I've learned this simple and powerful technique for getting the feelings out.

What about you? Have you found that your children open up easier when they are seemingly engaged in other activities? Do you, too, have a 30-year-old bin of LEGO®
DUPLO® on hand for emotional emergencies?

-Stephanie

Stephanie O'Dea writes the popular blog A Year of Slowcooking and Totally Together Journal.  Her cookbook will be Tuesday, October 13, and she has two darling daughters (and is due in December with baby #3.)  She has also run childcare centers for the court system.

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