Becoming More Active With Your Child’s Play According to ESDM – Part 4

Once your child accepts you as an interesting partner, you can increase your active involvement while playing. In our last post, we discussed imitation and adding variations. In this post, we will share tips on how to add turn-taking and taking control over playing materials.
  1. Taking control over the playing materials or the activity: “Taking control” over the materials or activity helps you create many opportunities for communication. You do it by holding objects (Lego pieces, markers, stickers, etc.) or delaying a motivating action, such as tickling your child and then pausing. This will allow your child to ask or communicate that they want to continue with what you withheld. 
  2. Take Turns Turn-taking begins when the child is engaged in a one-person activity, like playing the xylophone or coloring with a marker, and so on. Start by allowing your child to play for a minute or so. Then, start taking turns. In the beginning, keep your turns very (!) short since this may cause conflict. Your child is not yet used to turn-taking and needs to be sure that the toy will be given back quickly. If the child leaves the toy or refuses to interact in this way, it is not the end of the world. Go back to the earlier stages of joint play. However, if you have proceeded gradually and slowly through the stages, there is a good chance that your child will be willing to hand you the object after a few times. 
This is our last post on “How to become a play partner”. The different stages were written with an emphasis on establishing the interaction at the beginning of an intervention, yet we find them beneficial at all times.  After implementing the strategies for a while, the transition between the stages should be much quicker, and may even take just a minute or two. Even when there is a good and familiar relationship and interaction, it is more pleasant to start an interaction slowly and gradually increase the demands. Moreover, we want to implement strategies from all different stages all the time. The key to success is maintaining a balance between active participation while playing and while playing and parents intervening in the play. This gives your child time to initiate with encouragement, help, narration, and rest.