The “Do not disturb toddler” revelation

This post is dedicated to Janet Lansbury who inspired me to discover and enjoy self directed play.

image from

This weekend I had a revelation. I´ll cut the long story short and will briefly share what happened using an instructable writing style and lots of photos (which value more than thousand words) to meet Steady Mom´s 30 Minute Blog Challenge standards.

Instructions for a “Do not disturb toddler” revelation

You´ll need a relax Sunday, a pretend-to-be creative mom with crafts ideas, water colors, pencils, paper, a camera and a normal toddler.

Note: Mom tends to think he is unique, creative, intelligent, tender and fun, which makes him an outstanding toddler. She ignores -prefers to forget- being outstanding is the most normal thing for a toddler.

materials ready to start painting a creative mom´s craft idea

toddler chooses big brushes, these are too big to paint with our watercolors I think, but he´s playing peek-a-boo... I´ll take a photo, he´s so cute...

when he realizes he needs to choose a thiner brush I think he´s finally going to start painting on the paper but he goes round the table and decides that painting the Jar is much more fun

then he goes off to the next self directed play idea: building brush towers needs lots of concentration and balance...

I believe this boy really loves me and finally, wanting to please me, he turns his attention towards the white paper I placed on the table for him to paint. This lasts a few moments, then he declares "it´s raining, it´s pouring" and happily sings along transforming his body and soul into a great drummer.

In the very, very end of the game, he feels ready to paint using two brushes in one hand.

Game is over and off he goes while I insist in taking a picture of "my creative idea" for encouraging my toddler´s creativity... Mhmmm!

Here is my little boy, smiling so happy when he is asked to explain how he did his art work. He simply says: "I did it" but I know he is saying: I played peek-a-boo, I painted the Jar, I made a tower, I became a drummer, it poured on my art work and I finally painted it!

Having exceeded 1 minute in my 30 available and been this mom an honest woman, I only have one more thing to say: I was able to  discover the self directed play of my boy was much better than “my creative idea” because I was taking the photos instead of saying “No darling, you don´t want to paint that jar, you cannot build brushes towers, this is not a drum, it´s not raining, see the sun?”…

I wonder how many times I might have interrupted my children in their own creative flow when wanting to “help them” to be creative.

Liked my story? I´d love to read yours!

7 thoughts on “The “Do not disturb toddler” revelation

  1. I loved this post! Isn’t it so true that we can soo get in the way of their creativity! I love this idea of just sitting back and capturing the moment! Thanks!


  2. What a fun afternoon. 🙂 I will love to try paints with my little girl one of these days. I’m not quite brave enough yet.
    I suppose the day will come when following directions and adhering to the craft at hand will be the goal. But for now? Whatever strikes their little fancies!


    • fermaria says:

      Yes! This is a great point. Thank your for mentioning it. My revelation goes on!
      I´m sure the day will come when he will be able to adhere to directions with the same joy he goes into his little fancies now. I´m also sure this kind of self directed play is setting the perfect basis to build those social skills needed to learn and share with friends as well as the ability to acknowledge adults guidance when attending school.
      I mean: he will know he has the freedom to choose under play circumstances. This is a big relief and prepares children way better to accept when they have to accomplish external rules.
      Love, Fernanda


  3. This is a beautiful story of love and trust for your boy. It’s hard to stay out of the way, isn’t it? But so worth it! And these pictures are worth thousands of words. I am very, very touched by the dedication… Love, Janet


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s