While children do need time to play alone and with other children without adult intervention, research shows that playtime with parents is also important.
Children crave time with parents. It makes them feel special. Parents are encouraged to find time to spend playing with their kids on a regular basis. This should include one to one with each child and group time with all of the adults and kids in the home. If you are a single parent or have an only child, occasionally invite family or friends over to play.
In pretend play, let the child develop the theme. Get into their world. Let them go with it. Ask questions. Play along. Be silly along with them and have fun. Avoid over-stimulation. Know when it is time to stop.
Also, when appropriate, parents can use stuffed animals or puppets to act out real-life situations that can teach problem solving or social skills. Let the puppet demonstrate the wrong way to handle a situation. Then, along with input from the child, act out a better way.
Afterward, let the child do the same.
Play outdoors. Throw balls. Push kids on swings. Make mud pies. Go on a hike around the neighborhood. Take a nature walk in your backyard.
Play games – card games – board games – silly and wacky kids games. Help them learn to take turns, how to win and how to loose. Praise them. Encourage them. Laugh with them.
Get involved in a craft project together. Build a jigsaw puzzle as a family. Bake cookies. Paint a picture.
Listen to music together. Sing along. Play rhythm instruments along with music. Get out the guitar or keyboard and make music.
Read a book together. Ask questions. Ask them to change the story or make up a new one.
Watch a movie together. Find out what they liked – how they felt. Discover the child’s interests. Comment on and discuss any bothersome content either words or actions.
Help kids when they show the need it or ask for it. Use it as a time to teach:
- problem solving
- social skills
Play kid games like: Follow the Leader – Guess What I Am – Hide and Seek
Playing with kids builds a bond that will last forever. It lets the child know he or she is loved and appreciated. It opens the door for sharing problems and concerns when the need arises. It helps the parent get to know and under the uniqueness of each child. It is also great stress reducer for overworked parents.