The Importance of Playing with your Child

How often do you play with your child? Do you make enough time to be silly and creative with your kids? If you haven’t been doing so lately, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Play time between parents and their children has decreased in recent years. As parents, we’re so busy with work, getting our kids to school and to activities, and running errands, among other things, that there sometimes isn’t enough time in a day to play. Though it may seem silly, playing with your child has many benefits. Let’s explore the importance of play and how you can engage with your child more often…

First of all, play is essential to children’s development. Play is so crucial that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child. Play helps kids develop their creativity, cognitive skills, emotional strength, and communication skills. It allows children to interact with the world around them, practice making decisions, and gain confidence in the process.

Play is most beneficial when parents allow their children to lead. It provides a space for kids to learn about their thoughts and feelings. As you play together, you have the opportunity to help your child put names to his or her feelings. You can also model behavior about how to interact with others. It is helpful to offer your child gentle guidance in playing appropriately with others without directing the play. Encourage your child to make decisions on his or her own. As a result, your child will learn self-confidence when he or she is successful, and learn empathy when someone loses. It’s a great way to develop social skills, reinforce positive game-playing skills, and expand problem-solving skills.

In addition, play is valuable time for you to relax and build upon your relationship with your child. Play gives you a break; you can slow down and be in the moment. It’s a reminder to let loose and be a kid again—to distract yourself from your stressors, to laugh, and to enjoy time with your child. It’s a learning opportunity and a chance to have fun together. The goal is to enjoy the game-playing process, no matter who wins or loses.

You may be wondering, what does play look like? You can play games involving rules, like card games and board games, or create your own rules with imaginative games that you invent. You and your child can dance to music together, sing some of your favorite songs, or make music of your own. Other options include doing arts and crafts projects, playing a sport outside, or playing on the playground.

Children need to play independently at times, but it’s essential that parents play with their children as well. Playing with adults gives kids a safe place to be silly, explore their curiosities, and learn social skills. As parents, you are your children’s model for how to act and react to the world. Through play, you can guide your children in developing the skills that they will need later on in life. You can show that you care, help your son or daughter grow, and have fun together simply by engaging in play with your child.