As parents, we would wrap our kids in bubble wrap and clad them in armor if we could protect them from the pain that the world can bring. In fact, we might just let them live out their days in the safety of that backyard or living room fort. Under our watchful eye, certainly, they will be safe.While we cannot prevent all dents and dings to the body and heart our children experience, it turns out we can arm them to lessen the impact. Encouraging self-expression and boosting confidence prove to be the invisible armor kids need to navigate successfully the world around them. And, as we have discussed before, forts built with Fort Magic fort building kits enhance both of these qualities. Learn how self-expression and confidence building games for kids include fort building.
Play relieves stress. Lost in the world of fort building and imaginative play, children feel free to be themselves without worry over the expectations of parents, teachers or others. “No adults allowed” signs mean no adult pressures. This power of choice and decision-making enhances children’s confidence and allows experimentation with self-expression. Play also develops an individual style. Creating forts allows children to express personal perspectives and unique responses. Also, the open-ended nature of play gives kids the time to try new ideas and further discover their abilities to solve problems and interact creatively. Identifying who they are and how to express themselves, along with the confidence to do so, results.
And play encourages creativity. Using a Fort Magic kit and other materials found around the house in new, unexpected ways is the expression of this quality. When a long wooden spoon becomes an oar for a fort boat or paper towel tubes become spy glasses from a castle turret, innovation is at work. Each act of creativity encourages self-expression and breeds confidence. So, how do we as parents encourage such play?
One way to start is to open free play opportunities. Over-scheduling our kids with plenty of good activities seems all the rage today. But, kids need time to simply play without the structure and direction of formal activity. Be sure to schedule this breathing room into the rhythm of your kids’ days. Get that Fort Magic kit out and grant them time to play.And refrain from the unnecessary input. If a situation does not require emergency care or threaten the safety of a living being, let the play unfold as it will. Often as parents we need to be reminded to step back and let our children solve their own problems, create their own answers. The results may surprise us and our kids’ independence and confidence will flourish.
Express affection to your children Hugs speak volumes without ever using words. Take the opportunity to sneak in a quick squeeze as your child comes in for a snack break after building a masterpiece fort all morning. Spontaneous affection tells kids that we love them and are proud of them. This is a confidence-builder for certain. And redirect negative beliefs. If a child throws down the Fort Magic sticks with the exclamation, “I can’t do this. I never get anything right,” gently step into the situation. Encourage a new perspective with words such as, “You are a great builder. It seems you have run into some trouble. Let’s take a break and then you might see a new way to solve the problem.”
Remember to give praise and positive feedback. Honest, appropriate and generous praise passed onto your little one as you walk by his or her fort project encourages them to continue building and problem-solving. Also, reward good choices with verbal recognition to encourage a repeat of the same behavior. For instance, “I like the way you and your sister talked through your anger without yelling at each other.”
Getting children involved in constructive experiences such as fort building fosters self-esteem and confidence. Encouraging from the sidelines through the expression of affection, redirection of negative beliefs, and giving appropriate praise and positive feedback encourages the growth of an “I can do it” spirit and bolsters self-expression.
A few other tips for encouraging these character qualities with a Fort Magic kit include:
— Mix up the materials available to embellish the fort.
— Change the location of fort building projects.
— Read a story or give a prompt to inspire new builds.
— Encourage and allow decision-making in the creating.
— Ask questions rather than provide answers to sticky or troublesome situations.
— Vary your kids experience beyond forts, ethically, culturally, artistically, etc. for inspiration.
Building the qualities of confidence and self-expression in our children as they build forts bodes well for their interactions with the world today and into tomorrow. And, it may just turn out that we do not need to sequester them in that fort forever. Though, for a moment, doesn’t it seem like that would make for a perfect world?
How do you help build confidence and self-expression in your children? What role does fort building play to help make your kids feel more confident and creative? Share your ideas below!
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The Artful Parent Blog: One of our absolute favorite creative blogs for children and families. The Artful Parent blog is filled with simple ideas to fill your family’s life with art and creativity. A must see blog for sure.
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