Young children are facing new situations every day. They often have feelings and reactions to experiences that seem “little” to us but are really “big” to them. Sometimes figuring out what our little ones find scary or funny or interesting is a surprise!
Working with our children – trying to understand them and support them – is crucial to developing secure attachment and connection, which leads to their self-esteem and self-worth later in life.
Role play is a powerful way to help children process what they have gone through and prepare themselves for new experiences. Young kids are drawn to finger puppets so I find them a very useful tool to inspire meaningful conversations, as well as a lot of fun.
Giving our children positive experiences through play can help them feel ready to face new situations, as well as empower them with yet another opportunity to connect with a caregiver. Offering these types of interactions for a child to feel listened to and loved helps create a foundation for better communication, self-confidence and resilience.
Here are some simple scenarios for using finger puppets with young children.
6 Ways to Use Finger Puppet Play to Increase Confidence
Use the finger puppets to role play meeting someone. “Hi, what’s your name?” “How old are you?”
Prepare your child for a new experience (like a doctor’s appointment or playdate) through finger puppet play. Act out what may happen during the new experience either with your child so they can practice in the new situation or (for a reluctant child) with another finger puppet so they can watch what happens.
Have the finger puppets give your child encouragement. “You worked really hard building that tower!” “You showed a lot of courage going down that fireman pole!”
Re-do difficult situations, so your child has a chance to figure out a better alternative. For example, if your child had a challenging time in a shop the other day (perhaps they got upset when they were not allowed to buy a food they wanted), act out the scenario in a new way so they have the chance to try something different. “Oh I see you really, really want those lollies! What yummy fruit can you choose instead? Delicious strawberries sounds great!”
Let the finger puppets give your child language skills to express themselves, especially around choices and emotions. Just letting your child hear and see these phrases in action gives them a model to work off. “I’m feeling really sad right now.” “I’m sorry. I would like to make a different choice now.”
Empower your toddler by having a finger puppet ask them for help. “Can you help me with this puzzle?” “Can you show me where the bathroom is?” Giving your toddler an opportunity to help others lets them know they have skills and abilities to contribute to the people around them. Feeling useful is a great confidence booster!
Play is therapeutic for children and reaches them on a much deeper level than a string of words without the playful context. Do you have any finger puppets that could help your child process some experiences or work through new ones? Feel free to share ideas or ask questions in the comments below!
Looking for more educational resources?
Thanks to Child.com.au for sponsoring this post as well as 10 readings of my storybook Mason’s Greatest Gems which I did on our trip around Australia. If you are looking for educational resources, games and toys – check out their huge range on their website.
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Here is how to Build Self Confidence in Children.
Getting children to think about how the puppets are making certain noises with their mouths is also a great way for them to learn phonics in a passive way, as they move the mouths of their puppets to make certain sounds.