"Play with me!” Those are three little words that some parents may come to dread. As much as we love our children, it can often be a challenge to engage with them enthusiastically as we play the same game of make-believe with the same action figures or toy cars. What many parents do not realize is that being a faithful play partner with their child is an excellent avenue for establishing trust with the child.
According to Dr. Lawrence Cohen, psychologist, play therapist, and author of Playful Parenting, “Play allows parents to enter a child’s world, on the child’s terms, in order to foster closeness, confidence and connection.” He also states, “Sometimes it’s work mustering up enthusiasm when you feel bored and listless.” Don’t feel guilty for feeling bored when you play with your child but instead, be encouraged that your willingness to participate in their imagination will lend itself to a healthier and happier bond when they grow older.
Here are 5 helpful tips to consider when playing with your child:
1. Get creative with your playtime. Your child may suggest the same activity everyday, but feel free to offer new alternatives for playtime. They may not always be willing but you will be surprised at how refreshing it is when you are able to do a new activity together. Take them on a nature walk and collect acorns or make a pizza together! Not all play has to be wrestling on the floor or playing dress-up.
2. Show your child how you enjoy playing! While it’s important that your child do most of the directing as you play together, feel free to demonstrate how you like to spend your time too as a means of connecting with your child. Whether that’s painting your nails, throwing a football, or reading a book, allow your child to enter into your world. As your child begins adolescence she will likely enjoy doing more grown-up things with you.
3. Set aside specific time. It’s easy to be distracted as a parent with all of the chores and errands that need to be done in a day. Don’t let your whole day go by without some playtime with your child. Set a timer or alarm for 30 minutes to an hour and give your child your undivided attention. No phone or multi-tasking during playtime. Just play!
4. Remember that play can happen throughout the day. There are obvious times of the day when your child will play. But you can also play during trips to the grocery store, while driving in the car, getting ready for school, etc.
5. Enjoy your child. Even if the thought of playtime is stressful for you as a parent, try to view it as an opportunity to discover new aspects of your child that you may not have already noticed. Sharing these discoveries with your spouse or close friends may also encourage you to spend more time playing!
Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy of Keller is proud to offer an exclusive Preschool curriculum that seamlessly incorporates play and learning. We understand that children are motivated and inspired when they are able to have fun as they learn. We developed our curriculum with learners in mind, which makes our programs accessible and engaging for children of all ages! Contact us today to see how we might be able to meet your childcare needs!