Alphabets: using her motivations

Little Star loves to ism* with these plastic alphabets. She likes to tap two of the together, then change the pieces, but always tapping with 2 alphabets.

I join her for a period of time. Tapping alphabets together, I do my best to show her that I love her by accepting what she does and doing it with her, all the while observing to understand why she finds this fun. I notice that she especially loves to tap the pieces when they match in colour or shape. i.e. A to A, if the alphabets are same colour, even better.

We tap for a while. Initially, she took away my alphabets, but after experimenting tapping at different loudness and distance, S lets me continue. Soon, she starts giving me her green lights*, she looks at me, smiles, and leans towards me to share some affection.

Holding Litle Star’s motivation with the alphabets, I start to challenge her. I put half of the alphabets back in the box, and when she picks up a letter, I take the matching letter and asks her to exchange it with one of the alphabets strewn in front of her.

And she does! A green F. A yellow M. I celebrate each time, even when she makes a mistake, I praise her for trying, and guide her to the right alphabet. As being persistent, a healthy attitude of not giving up and continuous trying, all are way more important that getting the right answers. I myself have a terrible fear of failure. I know it is unhealthy and it leads to a lot of negative, self-sabotaging actions (too complicated to get into right now, but am sure many people understand). So as am working to unlearn this, I hope my child will learn the opposite attitude – of loving to try and try again, of not being afraid to fail.

After a few rounds of this game of alphabet exchange, she wants to play something else. But it was a nice 10 minutes of interaction and learning 🙂


*Isms are repetitive behaviours a child does to the exclusion of everyone else.

* Green lights are various forms of social interaction that indicate our child is open and receptive to us.


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