7 ways to teach kids big stuff

Give your children the means to deal with some of the big things they’ll encounter in life through play. Just follow our ideas:

1. Express emotions

Choose a mood and get them to draw what it looks like. Do the same with music: put on a rousing classical symphony, a blues track and some chart sounds. How does the music make them feel? It helps them express feelings without thinking you’re prying. Talk just about the good feelings and they’ll feel more comfortable talking about the bad when they need to.

2. Tolerate others

Big messages can be put across really easily in a great story. Look at the pictures; talk about the characters and the issues the story raises.

Barefoot Books have some really special ones. We love Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass (£5.99, www.barefoot books.com; 0800 328 2640). Herb is captured and needs the other dragons’ help, but they’ll only do so if he eats meat. It’s perfect for teaching about understanding and accepting differences.

3. Learn patience

Bake some bread together. Go through the whole process and get them involved with every aspect: use fresh or dried yeast that needs soaking. Mix, knead, prove, knead and prove again. Oh, yes, and then bake it. All this requires lots of patience, care and attention, great qualities to learn in life. Just make sure they help you wash-up and tidy the kitchen afterwards!

– Next: more ‘big stuff’ to teach your kids

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