So now you know the DIR, what comes next?
Floortime is the direct practical application of the DIR framework. In order to support a child’s development, we need to interact with them in a way that is meaningful and fun for them. And what do children so best? PLAY!
It is time for you to revert back to your childhood and bring back the playfulness that children crave. Floortime is essentially using play as a tool to help children climb up the developmental ladder (refer to the DIR Framework). So that means that you need to enter into your child’s world, and connect with them through playful experiences, to then create a shared world where healthy and positive development can occur. When you play with your child, you can progressively make the game more challenging, create more opportunities for reciprocal communication and help your child be able to meaningfully engage with others.
Floortime can be used for any and every child and is a timely reminder for adults to engage in playful experiences. With life being so fast-paced and technology taking over the world, many adults have forgotten the art of play. Here are a few tips for how you can integrate Floortime or play into your life at home…
- Get down on your child’s level – no one ever had fun playing a game with someone staring down at you
- Be silly! The goofier you are, generally, the more engaged (or amused) a child will be
- Don’t state facts, join in the game! As adults we often like to state facts when we see a child playing. For example, you see a child playing with a toy car and state “wow what a cool looking car, I bet it drives fast!”. The child is probably thinking yeah I know, that’s why I am playing with it. Alternatively, you get down on their level, use their car or find your own and make a big “VVRRRMMM” sound and get the car to do a loop-de-loop. All of a sudden that is a lot more engaging for the child.
- Affect – use emotion and a higher pitched voice when you play. Being monotone is boring and may not gain your child’s attention. Once you raise the pitch of your voice and show pure excitement, that can reel the child in to start engaging with you
- You can make all experiences playful – even when it isn’t playtime, you can make tasks or activities fun in the home. If you are packing away the groceries, make it into a shop-keeper game. If you are cleaning the car, it could be an underwater party! Making experiences playful can help your child not only with social-emotional development but also communication skills, problem-solving and conflict resolution
- HAVE FUN – play is a way for you to escape from the real-world and have a genuine and real connection with your child. Spending this time with your child is instrumental in their development, but also great for your well-being as well. The chances are if you are having fun, then your child will be too.
You can teach your child so many skills through play such as – problem solving, conflict resolution, empathy, emotional regulation, sharing and turn-taking and two-way communication. Playful experiences are the doorway to positive childhood development.
Now you have a few tips for how you can implement Floortime/play into your life, it’s time to put theory into practise. Happy playing!
Kait is passionate about her work of supporting children and their families to feel confident and competent to meet the joys and challenges of day to day life. Her work as a paediatric OT has allowed her to develop specialist skills in play, toileting, feeding and self help skills.