You may have heard of floortime. Are you really on the floor?
You might be because this is where children usually play and where there is more room to position yourself in front of them and to move around … floortime is wherever your child is as you follow and join his interests or actions. You may find him jumping on the bed, or splashing in the bathtub, or running down the hall as you chase him, or hiding under the covers enticing you into peek-a-boo … floortime is wherever you join your child and convey you want to play and have fun together. Your playfulness starts the chain of interactions heightening the pleasure and the desire to be together, as you signal and cue each other emotionally (affect) with your tone of voice and gestures. The goal is to make it more fun to play together than to play alone, and to want to seek more! You do not need words, or rules, or rigid turns … just signal through looks, and smiles, and gestures, and movement, and laughter. Your child sets the terms and you go along for the ride, but make it a long one!!
Little Sam does not yet talk at thirty months, but when he waddles into the room wearing Daddy’s shoes and holding a phone, we know what he is thinking, what he is feeling, what he is communicating and what he is learning! As Mom and Dad restrain their laughter and say, “Hi Daddy!”, Sam begins to jabber and they jabber back, with a long stream of reciprocal vocalizations until peals of laughter are heard as they roll around on the floor. They are having fun!! Mom and Dad prolong their interactions with funny sounds and calling, “who is it?” as they pretend to hold a phone. Sam gets silly too when they wait for his response. When he walks away and drops the phone “ Mom calls out , “Ring, ring, ring, anyone home?”, pulling him back in and handing Sam the phone, and he resumes jabbering. Their spontaneous playfulness connects them, enhances their relationship, and launches Sam into the emerging world of pretend play. Do you think Sam will play this “story” again? And again? And maybe again??
What does this mean? Sam did find Daddy’s shoes and put them on intentionally. He also initiated the conversation by holding the phone to his mouth? He knew what to do with the phone and was practicing what he learned about adult behavior. Not clear what he wanted to say, but his jabber was communicative and their “conversation” went on as they shared attention. The silliness and laughter conveyed mutual pleasure and their attachment and relationship grew stronger.
His parents also grew hopeful as the playfulness quieted their concerns and their beautiful child was not just a child with a pending diagnosis who would not do the tasks or answer questions during his assessment, but a child above all; one they could enjoy playing with.
Profectum Foundation offers several webcasts on the topic of floortime. Visit the Parent Education Page to learn more.