Building bricks and mom-to-son relationships


There was a time when Lego dominated our family room. My boys were consumed with building their customized Legoland and playing with the evolving brick-based world.The sound of hands raking through bins brimming with bricks erupted frequently.

Those bins had languished, untouched in the closet under the stairs for a few years, outgrown by their former fans. That’s until Sam discovered the market for Lego and began selling it on Kijiji. He raked through the bins, built or bagged the Lego and sold all but a couple of favourites.

Despite the advent of electronic games and other screen-based diversions, Lego remains as strong as its bricks in the world of kid entertainment. In addition the constant flow of new building sets, March 1 marks the official opening of Legoland at Vaughan Mills. Then there’s the book Lego Man that is featured in the “On the bookshelf” section this month.

Meanwhile, with this flood of Lego in my life came the results of a study that looked at the effects of how moms play with their kids. I was a building pro at the Duplo stage, when the boys were toddlers and liked to crash over the towers that I constructed. Later, I was challenged by Lego sets geared to eight-year-olds.

Researchers at the University of Missouri looked at the extent to which moms try to control the content and pace of young children’s play and how that impacts on their relationship. It got me thinking about how I played with my kids. I believe the extent of direction varied according to the activity. In my memory, we were having fun.

The study showed that when mothers were highly directive during playtime, children expressed less positive regard for them and more negative feelings toward them. The good news for bossy mommies like me is that the researchers found that if the direction were tempered with warmth and affection, kids would have a more positive relationship with their moms.

In my Petri dish of a family, our mom-to-son relationships are definitely positive, especially now that the closet under the stairs has been freed up for storage of items other than bins of Lego.


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