Toddlers and young children play effortlessly and easily, with no stress or inhibitions to limit their explorations. Their imagination is their only limit. Every attachment parent knows how important hands-on imaginative play is. Through play, children develop their personalities, their creativity, and their relationships. Through play, children express their emotions, their needs, and their desires. Playtime is a way for a child to express himself in ways he may not be able to verbally or psychologically. A parent who plays with their child is able to connect on a deeper, more intimate level with their child.
As children grow, playtime grows as well. It is important for parents to remain hands on and guide their children through the stages of their play. For parents, relating to a school aged child can be much more difficult than it was to communicate with a toddler. When your child grows too old for wrestling, tickle fights, and general silliness, then it is time for the playtime to grow and mature as well.
The following are several ways in which a parent can support and encourage healthy parent-child relationships through the maturation of playtime.
As children age, their style of physical play changes, but their enjoyment of it does not. Physical play becomes more about organization and tests of skill and strength, and less about wrestling and running aimlessly. The logical, more developed brains of older children enjoy organized activities such as sports, physical games, or activities. By participating in these activities with your children, you can connect to them on a “feel good” level, sharing your experiences and strengthening your bond. Interactive play provides strong emotional connections between parents and children.
As a child grows, his brain and language skills become more developed and mature. Verbal play is a great way for families to stay connected. Word games are great, but consider telling jokes as well. A funny joke can activate many areas of the brain, as well as releasing endorphins in the body. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, laughter is the best medicine! Share jokes or funny stories around the dinner table or after school.
Besides finding activities, games, and sports that the whole family can participate in, it’s also important for parents to spend individual time with each child. Individual play allows children to become more emotionally invested in the lives of their parents. Child development specialists recommend finding an activity that is pleasurable to the child, first and foremost. Joining your child in an activity they already love, whether it be playing with Legos or making music, can strengthen the feelings of closeness between parents and children.
Playtime Is A Listening Tool
Playtime is some of the most important time of day for a child. It not only allows them to express their own individuality and creativity, but it brings them together with their parents and siblings. Besides this, playtime is an ideal time for parents to listen to their kids. As children get comfortable in their playtime activities with their parents, their conversations may become deeper, giving parents and opportunity to listen to their child’s unexpressed needs, desires, fears, or troubles.
Regardless of whether or not a parent shares a child’s particular interest, getting involved in that interest or activity will inevitably bring the parent and the child closer.
Your children are growing and changing. Is your playtime growing with them? Stay involved in your children’s lives– remember, parenting lasts a lifetime, but childhood is short.