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Tapestry

Misuse Of Equipment


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

We have a little boy who insists on using the equipment in the wrong way. For instance the bread board in the home corner becomes a sword/dagger and he acts it out in role play. Then he will pick up the wooden spoons and use them in the same way. We think it has something to do with our home corner but instead of bringing him out of there what could we do? He will also use the food in the area (yes real food such as pasta and small potatoes) as missiles chucking them at anyone - even jumping down to the floor as a way of hiding so we cannot see who is doing it. We have noticed that rather than say laying a table and pretending to make meals using the cooker, frying pan, potatoes etc he will lift the basin in the sink and throw all the food down in there and refuses to let any other child correct his actions pushing them out of the way. Is there something we are missing which should deter him or perhaps make him think about his area. We have tried ignoring, distracting and as I say taking him out of there but he still returns to the same actions the following day. We believe it is attention seeking but do not know how to handle it in a way that is beneficial to him and every other child in the playgroup.

 

Yesterday he was playing in the sand area quite happily on his own and then walked down with the spade still in his hand (we reinforce that all toys in the area must be put away before moving to the next area) backwards to the home corner. He picked up some playdough while on his way there then lifted a saucepan and walked back up to the sand tray and sprinkled it with sand. This is not what we really want to happen simply because we prefer the playdough to be used on the table with the scissors and rollers and there are plenty of buckets and sieves in the sand play for using so it is not a case of not having enough utensils in each area if you understand what I mean.

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but in his eyes he is using it the right way ? i agree that using the items as missiles cant be tolerated as this could harm or damage -and i would re-enforce this message quite strongly, but in my setting we would encourage this childs imagination -sit with him, get involved with his play, see where he was going in his mind and what his plans /ideas/intentions were ?.

 

when he took the playdough and the pan to the sand area -he used them,played with them, he had ideas and a plan in his head ? maybe just put some playdough and other items in this area .

 

how old is he and how long has he been at your setting ?

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Guest terrydoo73

No my deputy and I are agreed on this behaviour - it is definately attention seeking. He was not using his imagination in any way shape or form but rather scaring all the children - leaving one child nearly in tears.

 

He plays happily in the sand, water, dough, small world and even has tried with the paint but we notice a marked difference when going into this area. It is like he doesn't like the idea of a kitchen area??

 

He stood beside the sand tray with the pan and dough behind his back, lifted sand with the other hand and put it in the pan hiding it all the time. I am sorry but I cannot agree to put playdough in the sand tray - we have spent so long teaching the children routines and what goes where that we just wouldn't at this stage of settling in think outside the box not yet anyway.

 

He is 3 has been with us for approx 6 weeks - he started on his birthday in June and returned after summer at the beginning of September.

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personally I would be working closely with him modelling what you feel is appropriate so if he takes playdough to the sand steer him back saying 'Playdough stays here. Dough or sand?' Is it possible for you to have a week where there are opportunities to put sand in dough for him to see how it works? It sounds to me like he is simply being 3 and exploring as well as testing the boundaries with you. Pick your battles. If you really think it's attention seeking then give him some! Ask him to help you, spend some time playing his way (not the aggressive part!)

We have a lad who is very similar and it is so easy as an outsider to say ah well try this or that but I TOTALLY relate to being there and just thinking noooooo why has he done THAT? LOL We did lots of observations on our wee one and asked mum if he was the same at home. She said no until we asked if we could refer him as we felt his behaviour was that of a child much younger and we wanted to get him some support. If we didn't 1-1 him he caused no end of damage. However between her agreeing and September he has improved! I think for him it was just immaturity. Good luck!

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sometimes though I think we as adults have an expectation of what children should do with a resource and then they perceive it from a completely different perspective!

 

I did some work with schools about creative role play and there was a piece of research we used (which I now can't find) which listed the objects that would stimulate open ended role play - a bowl , a piece of dowel, a piece of fabric......it went on, but the point was it didn't have a pre determined "use", which liberated everyone from expectations. Children could make it what they wanted. Maybe this is part of this child's experience. he sees the wooden spoon as a sword. You see a wooden spoon for stirring food - instant mismatch!!!.

 

Personally I think children should be able to use different resources in different areas....whilst I would have a home for everything for tidying purposes I think we also place arbitrary boundaries around things which the children just don't see. Again instant "issue" which in my mind really isn't.

 

At 3 his PSED skills may not yet have the empathy or understanding of the needs of others that allows him to see that his behaviour is scary to others...as an egocentric 3 year old this may just be where he is at rather than it being deliberate.

 

Cx

Edited by catma
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I remember watching a lad roll and flatten a piece of playdough, then he took it to the sand tray, sprinkled sand on it, flipped it over, patted it and then took it to the home corner and put it in a pan. I saw a lad who had watched cooking at home and knew exactly what he was doing with his piece of fish or chicken.

I never had a problem with resources being used in a different area, playdough can be replaced quite cheaply, the sand can be sieved and the home corner equipment can be washed.

I think if we deny children the chance to use the available equipment in a way that meets their play needs at that moment we can lose wonderful opportunities to enhance their learning. I've seen a plastic carrot used as a syringe and a wok used as a overhead hair dryer.

The throwing isnt good, but could you perhaps have a throwing area with small bean bags, soft balls ect and a bucket or net to throw them into, maybe he just needs to throw.

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Have you tried to ascertain why he might feel a need to disrupt a kitchen area?

 

Does he have a sibling who is very controlling with a similar resource at home?

 

Does he have a role model at home who he sees cooking? Could it be that he doesn't know how to pretend to cook? Could you join him in the area to model these skills instead of removing him?

 

If he is doing it for attention, why is he feeling the need to attract attention in this way?

 

If you made a series of focussed obs on his play might you find a pattern which is not obvious to a casual observer?

 

It is important that children are allowed to use resources in different ways, transferring them between areas and being creative. However there also needs to be purposeful play happening which is supported by an adult. If this isn't happening what could you do to try to engage with this little boy?

 

Have you seen any videos about Sustained Shared Thinking? I don't have time to search for them right now but I wonder if they might be of interest to you. You could try Googling it or maybe some clever person can give us a link.

Edited by Upsy Daisy
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I agree with all the views about using resources in different ways. He is using his imagination which should be encouraged, maybe not when creating weapons though!

Personally I would place a member of staff in the home corner and get them to model how to play in there and give massive amounts of praise to the children who join them. If he starts to use a spoon as a gun I would take it off him, not giving him eye contact and not saying a word, and use it to stir a pan. I'm sure within seconds another child will come and take over the stirring, so again I'd give them lots of over the top praise. I reckon he'd pretty quickly cotton on and join in to receive the praise for himself and then you can engage him in other appropriate play whilst still allowing him to use his imagination (Ooo!! What are you cooking? It smells delicious. Can I taste it? What shall we do now? etc.)

Obviously there's going to be a limit to how much you can ignore his actions if he gets violent but try to give him as little attention as possible. Do you have a thinking chair or anything similar? If you do, you could lead him to the chair and hand him a timer, again with no eye contact and no speaking if his behaviour goes beyond what can be ignored. Basically you just need to teach him that he will get attention for good behaviour and no attention for bad behaviour.

I'm sure you'll get this sorted out, just stand your ground and be consistent and make sure all the staff do the same because it'll only take one adult to shout at him for throwing things to confirm his belief that this is how to get attention!

 

And look on the bright side, with such a vivid imagination, just think of the stories he'll be able to write when he's older! I can imagine him being in year 2 and writing a fantastic story and asking can he come and show it to you because you were the one who taught him to use his imagination in a constructive way!

 

Good luck x

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My brain doesn't always function terribly well, so forgive me: why shouldn't he use the spoon as a gun if he wishes to............and why should it have to be used only for stirring??? In my setting, spoons have many different uses;sometimes they are mirrors ( not very good ones, it has to be said!), sometimes they are telephones,sometimes drawn on to make faces and sometimes a sonic screwdriver. I can't see that this little boy is doing anything at all unusual though of course, if other children find his behaviour scarey, perhaps he could be distracted from whatever it is he is doing that scares them? Otherwise, he sounds pretty normal to me, lovely,lively imagination and all :)

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Lol Narnia, I agree! I didn't mean that he should only stir with it, that was just an example! most settings don't allow gun play so was just suggesting a way of trying to help him to swap that for something more acceptable :o

 

And I'm assuming that his play is getting too violent otherwise Terrydoo wouldn't be concerned in the first place!

Edited by Guest
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Can highly recommend "we don't play with guns here" by Penny holland to help reflection on the gun/super hero zero tolerance dilemma and how a setting went from zero to heros in respect of their boys play.

 

A great read.

 

cx

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I agree with others that children see things differently than adults such as the wooden spoon, and as adults we sometimes expect children to understand the feelings of others or to read other people's minds when they simply are not developmentally able to. Many children develop a 'theory of mind' around 4 years of age.

 

 

There is also a policy on superhero/weapon play on ABC does.....http://abcdoes.typepad.com/abc-does-a-blog/resourcesdraft.html

 

My first thought reading your initial comments was that the child might be pursuing a trajectory schema, interested in straight lines (sword/wooden spoon) and throwing things. As has been suggested, channelling this possible interest, which if it is a schema is a biological need, into something more acceptable like throwing bean bags into a bucket or velcro darts at a dart board, or wet sponges at a black board.

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I agree with Narnia....one of the issues with children's education is that it is largely run by women who are dismissive of "boys" games because they seem them as rough violent and bad. I think it might be an idea to consider (self reflection) whether your body language and language indicates this to him and thus MAKES it an attention seeking action. If he had access to this kind of role play in the setting every day it would cease to be thus. A box of super heroes/ a dressing up box with cloaks and cardboard swords and shields....talk about fighting monsters not fighting our friends. I used to do this a lot using power rangers....."Power rangers never shoot people do they? No thats right they fight monsters so we can make a monster to fight but we mustnt fight each other because power rangers wouldnt do that".

 

Personally Im always far more concerned with those little dots who one day come in all dressed in pink obsessed with barbie and already wearing nail polish and giggling every time a little boy comes near them....than I ever am about a boy who is engaging in rough physical play! :o

 

The other interesting line is "we prefer" the playdough to be used on the table.....why? surely EYFS is all about the childs preferences? If the child want to experience what happens (the textural and subseuqent sensory change) when they put playdough in the sand/water/ leave it to dry on the window sill/bury it in the garden,wrap it around the dinosaurs, press their jumpers into it to see the patterns...surely they are getting more than they ever can from the sterile table top environment with a few rollers and snippers that the grown ups think is appropriate?

 

(Jude ducks and prepares to be shot down in flames)

Edited by enuffsenuf
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...surely they are getting more than they ever can from the sterile table top environment with a few rollers and snippers that the grown ups think is appropriate?

 

(Jude ducks and prepares to be shot down in flames)

 

 

Dont duck, I especially love that bit. I hate rollers and cutters :o

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I think children have a habit of turning our best planned activities upside down and as practitioners I think we need to roll with it unless of course the actions of one child endangers or caused unnecessary distress to another.

 

In terms of throwing missiles this needs to be stopped as potentially dangerous but if you have a 'no throwing policy' inside this shouldn't be too hard to enforce. I would explain that we throw things like balls and hoops and bean bags etc outside and that if these things hit someone in the face etc they could really hurt. If he continues to do this you can deal with the breech of your settings rules and go from there.

 

As for taking playdough into the sand then I have to agree with others.....if the playdough is home made and therefore relatively inexpensive to make does it matter if you have to throw a chunk away? We only stopped playdough going into the home corner as the room had a carpet and playdough and carpet don't go well together but it was moved from one table to the sand tray, water tray etc in our messy area quite often.

 

I appreciate it is hard sometimes getting the children to follow the rules whilst allowing them freedom to explore and experiment. I think there is a difference between exploration and wanton destruction and obviously you need to encourage children to respect the resources and not damage things willy nilly.

 

As for turning every resource into a weapon well that's boys for you and if it isn't weapons it will be something else. We had a group who turned anything long and pointy into fire hoses and they spent the morning fighting fires, rearranging chairs into fire engines etc

 

Boys need space and so try and use your outside area as much as possible and I appreciate it is hard sometimes but except that children will not do as we would wish them to do and they don't behave they way we used as children when we were probably educated in a far more regimented fashion (I know I was)

 

Just a last thought, I was in the supermarket the other day and 2 little girls were walking round dressed in princess frocks and helping mum do the shopping. I never used to let my little girl go out like that....why????....I think I thought people would think me weak and unable to control her or would be seen to be giving into her every whim but now I can't believe I was so stupid....what harm would it have done to let her go out like that....I feel horrid when I think back and of course when I started working in early years and did the qualifications I felt even more horrid knowing that I probably affected her self confidence/imagination etc etc.......the point I am trying badly to make is chose your battles carefully and don't try and fight them all, try to decide what is really important and try and step back a moment before making a decision which you will then have to stick to and follow though to the enth degree

 

Good luck with it all.....it is a hard job some days.

Sue

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