Why play is important and how to play with your child!
We live in a society that is very focused on achievement and productivity. Therefore, play and the importance of play for our children can often be overlooked. As a parent you may think that play is something your child does for entertainment or fun. You may not see the time your child spends playing as productive or important. You may also have been taught that it is something that children do solo or with each other, and may not see the importance of engaging in play with your child.
However, research shows that play is much more than just fun, it is actually an integral part of your child’s developmental process. It is the way that children relate and make sense of the world they live in, which actually helps children learn and practice many important life skills. Therefore it is not only important that you child gets to experience playtime, but that they get to experience playtime with you. When you engage in playtime with your child, it can increase your attachment to your child and create positive feelings, experiences, and memories for you and your child.
Play can help children develop all of the below skills and much more!
- Use their imaginations
- Try new ideas
- Problem solve
- Increase communication skills
- Increase social and emotional skills
- Help communicate feelings, thoughts, and needs
- Learn how to share and take turns
- Understand the feelings of others
- Increase self-confidence
- Develop a sense of competence
We know play is important, but many parents may not play with their children for the simple reason that they do not know how or what to do! Here are some tips that you may find helpful when playing with your child.
- Follow your child’s lead. Resist the urge to teach your child “the right way” to color a picture or build a tower. Simply be present, offer praise, and mimic your child and do what they ask you to do.
- Pace play to suit your child and follow their clues. Often if a child is resisting play or becoming frustrated, it is because the activity is beyond the child’s developmental level and they do not understand. Try offering different activities until your child finds something that they are comfortable with.
- Avoid power struggles with your child. Board games for instance often teach playing by the rules and results in someone winning and losing, which can often create power struggles when you want to teach your child to follow rules or to be a good winner or loser. Young children often don’t understand these rules.
- Set up unstructured play. This allows your child to foster their imagination and creativity. Fantasy and pretend play are helpful to assist your child in with creative thinking and gives children a safe place to process and explore their emotions.
- Most importantly, relax, have fun and enjoy watching your child learn and grow though play.
The next time your child asks you to play with them, remember that it is more than just fun. It will actually benefit your child’s emotional and social development, and will strengthen your attachment to your child as well as create life long memories!
We’re Here To Help
If you or your child are in need of therapy services, we can help!
Reach out to the Family Connections Therapy team today to schedule a counseling session and learn more. We can help you explore new ways of play, parenting, communication and more!
Book an appointment online or call our office today at (858) 776-8804. We currently offer tele-therapy appointments for couples and are accepting new clients now.