Young children and pups learn best when they are having fun. Recall a time when you were playing hide and seek. If you hid in a place that was highly visible such as behind a small box your body would be easily seen and tagged. Over time you began to recognize that hiding in inconspicuous places made you less of a target. In other words, you made new choices based a shift in perception. You began to observe people and experiences through another pair of eyes allowing a new neuropathway has been formed. These differences become apparent even at a young age. Your mind opened the door to new opportunities previously not perceived. Thus the new perception evolved, maybe this isn’t a good place to hide because they can see me but there behind to tree they won’t. Even though you as a young child weren’t able to express this mental process verbally, even though it was happening all the time. As you played the game your perceptual shifts enabled you to think of more strategic spots to hide that wouldn’t have come to mind a few hours, days or even months earlier.
Our pup Zac made shifts in perceptions the same way. At 9 weeks old Zac was taught skills through the avenue of play, like a young child. He was given a loving, caring environment essential for activating and promoting these shifts. Zac was given activities that required him to think through a situation. Each opportunity to solve a problem or create something new developed a new neuropathway or reinforced one that was being strengthened. Bright coloured balloons bounced in the wind in the garden where he played giving him auditory and visual stimulation. Bumping, whooshing, rattling sounds helped him to develop stronger neuropathways in relation to these normal day-to-day experiences. Treats in a toy maze, helped him figure out how to capture that tasty morsel he longed to eat. Each time he was successful in getting the snack a shift in perception occurred, thinking and problem solving so he could get the desired result faster next time. Every time Zac successfully retrieved the treat it reinforced the feeling of success so he enthusiastically tackled it the next time.
We want our children to feel success also. Although we don’t stand there with physical treats like we do with a puppy, but we do give the message to our children in other ways. Have you ever praised your child for a job well done, or smiled in an adoring way, how about a hug or happily clapping at a successful project? It’s important to celebrate even the small accomplishments such as putting away the toys or you saying thank you when they set the table. This gives the child a loving message that the world is safe, and they are perfect as they are. Most important they know it is okay to be different and try new things.
A young child puts a small box on his or her head like a hat. A large box is used as a train going down the tracks. The brain is growing and expanding as memories and imagination are activated. Possibilities to create new and different experiences propelling children to reach for more in their lives thereby shifting their perception of the world. Like anything the more they practice it the more success they experience. What play experiences are you opening up for your child to expand their perception?