Making Play an Important Part of Parenting

One of my biggest regrets so far in parenting is taking it so seriously, and not being playful enough.  I wish I had known 15 years ago that being a playful parent could build a stronger relationship between my kids and me.  Playing with our children fills up their need for attention, curbs anxiety, improves behavior, strengthens attachment, builds confidence, and creates joy.  Why do we find it so hard to be playful?  It can take as little as 20 minutes a day, if we are consistent in finding the time and a playful attitude.16957393376_88ea423332_o

Top 10 ways to connect with your kids through play…

10  Do what your child does.  Watch what your child is doing for 2 minutes, then get right next to them and do the same thing.  If your child is using a toy or object, bring your own matching one so you don’t have to take your child’s.

9  Do what you like.  Think back to when you were a child and remember what you liked to play.  Then invite your child to do that type of play with you.Family_Reading_Hour

8  Transform work into play.  Figure out how your child can join in with you in a playful way to get housework done.  Turn tasks into games.101112-N-0706W-008

7  Get physical.  Find out what type of rough-house play gets your child giggling.  Try pillows, blankets, chasing, swinging, wrestling, dancing, bouncing, twirling, or pony rides.  If it gets a little competitive, let your child

6  Establish a family game night.  If you have older children, pick one evening each week or each month to hang out together in the evening and play.  Try board games, card games, building with Lego’s, and yes, even play video games.  Just do it together.

5  Get outdoors.  When you head to the back yard, park, or playground, don’t sit down.  Follow your child and join in the fun.Child_pushing_grandmother_on_plastic_tricycle

4  Let your child lead.  Don’t be a director.  Whether you are literally playing follow-the-leader, or simply joining in whatever your child wants to play, don’t tell them what or how to play.  There are plenty of other times in the day you have to tell them what to do.

3  Use what you have.  If you have toys handy, play with them.  If you have a spoon and a shoe box, play with those.  If you just have yourself and your child, play face-to-face games, sing songs, or just have fun making silly faces.3772193760_b8573933f7_o

2  Make transitions playful.  Changing activities doesn’t have to be stressful.  Add a make-believe story to act out, or try fun movements like marching, stomping like a dinosaur, hopping like a bunny, or flying like a butterfly to get from one place to another.

1  Make a commitment.  Prioritize play.  Decide to do it every day.


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