As parents, we often ask our kids to entertain themselves while we work on other tasks. While learning to play independently is important, children love playing with others, especially their parents. They crave time with their parents and since play comes naturally to them, it is a great opportunity to get to know your child better and teach new skills authentically. When parents make a point to play with their kids on their level they will experience many benefits for both the parent and child involved.
PLAYING PROMOTES BONDING
Children build relationships through time spent interacting and playing with others. When parents play with their kids it gives them an opportunity to see things from their perspective, use pretend play to explore their environment, build problem solving skills, and have fun together. When children play with their parents they learn to trust them, how interact with others, and how healthy competition works. We all build relationships and bonds when we spend time together. What relationship is more important the one of parent and child?
PLAYING IS FUN
Playing comes easily to children, but somewhere along the way we forget how to play with a prescribed set of rules and why we enjoyed it in the first place. When parents give themselves permission to let go of their to-do list for a few moments and just focus on the fun that comes with playing, they have time to enjoy their kids, laugh with them, and show them their lighter side.
PLAYING IS GREAT STRESS RELIEF
Once we have set aside time in our day to allow for play, we often find ourselves smiling and laughing more often with our children. After experiencing this, we can feel some of the day’s tension lift. Playing is a great way to relieve stress, especially when it includes physical activity. Getting out in the backyard and playing catch, taking a walk to the park, or exploring nature are great ways to reduce stress while playing with and bonding with your child. Playtime can be a great stress relief to children as well. It gives them a chance to act out their frustration and worries in a safe environment.
PLAYING DEVELOPS SKILLS
It’s no surprise that interacting with others helps your child develop their social skills but there are many other ways play aids your child’s development. Playing catch develops hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. Pretend play, such as playing kitchen or doing a puppet show, helps them learn about the world around them. Stressful situations can be acted out through play and can help kids learn to deal with them. Coloring, crafts, and building blocks develops their fine motor skills and gross motor skills are developed throughplaying at the park, riding bikes along trails, or building an obstacle course and testing it out. Play also builds their self-esteem and helps them understand their role in the world. Parents can help guide their children through these learning processes while teaching them how to play with others and the benefits of living an active lifestyle.
We live in a busy society that undervalues and leaves little time for play. Parents must be intentional when it comes to making time to interact and play with their children. The to-do list will always be there but our children grow up in what seems like a blink of an eye. Taking the time to play with your child is worth it for both of you.