Making a special play space

Kids like to have a spot of their own — a seat, room, desk, cubby or whatever. Sometimes deliberately creating a separate space can help a child to concentrate on an activity, and let them feel special and powerful. It doesn’t have to be big, expensive or separately built.

Boxes

Collect boxes from supermarkets — they create fabulous castles, forts, shops, shelves, cars, targets for bowling or goals for throwing a ball into to increase ball skills. If you get one big box (from appliance shops), all the smaller ones can be stored in it.

Couch

Pull the couch out a little, creating a special cubby space between couch and wall. It’s a good place to spy on Mum and the jumble of toys can stay there out of sight.

The ‘nest’

This is wonderful for a child who wants to be part of the action all of the time. They may not want their daily sleep any more, and become tired and grumpy — not wanting to rest but at the same time not able to stay up. Look out for a big, open, low basket or cut down a large cardboard box, into which you can place pillows, sheepskins or soft blankets to make a ‘nest’. This is the resting place, where a bottle of juice can be consumed at leisure, while watching Playschool or listening to taped music or a story. Little children love to snuggle in a nest; it becomes associated in their mind with ‘quiet time’. If they talk or get up, nest time is over.

Knock to enter

Bedrooms matter a lot to children. At particular times, you may notice that your child wants a little more privacy. Perhaps they want to be treated as an individual or they just get a fright when people burst into their room. Experiment with knocking first and asking, ‘Can I come in?’ It’s surprising how children feel more confident and respected by this simple courtesy.