Using the Sandbox as a Teachable Moment

Summer is here, and for little ones, it means that it's time for the playground and more specifically the sandbox.  For toddlers and young kids, the sandbox encourages curiosity, collaborative play, and helps build friendships and community.  It can be a fun and playful environment, but it can also be stressful for children as well as their caregivers.  Toddlers and preschoolers often need help playing together and socializing in the sandbox appropriately.   Socializing in the sandbox requires many social skills including joining a group, turn taking, impulse control and sharing.  These are all skills that are challenging at this stage of development and most children need some help to navigate the sandbox successfully.

Here are some tips to help in the sandbox from our friends at Upper West Side Parenting Support:

1.      Bring more than one toy so that your child can use one and give another child a turn.

2.      Do not bring your child’s favorite toy as this will be very difficult to share.

3.      Stay close to your child to intervene if there is an issue with taking turns.

4.      Model and teach your child how to ask for a toy.

5.      Stay attuned to your child’s experience.  Is he getting overstimulated, frustrated or overwhelmed by the activity in the sandbox?  This may be a good time to gently scoop him up and say “The sandbox seems very busy and hard to play in today.  Let’s take a break and come back when it’s quieter.”

6.      Visit the sandbox during less busy hours to allow your child the room to explore and play with her own toys and ideas.