Play is the most important activity a child can engage in. Free play helps kids develop all their skills, explore the world around them, gain and expand knowledge, and have fun.
The best learning environment is one that allows children to feel safe and encouraged to follow their interests. Play teaches children how to interact with others, solve problems, develop language, use imagination, express feelings, and resolve conflicts.
Why is Playing with Your Child Important?
Active participation in your child’s play encourages him to explore the environment under your caring supervision and to experiment with different situations and consequences in the safety of play.
1. Mutual Play with Your Child Promotes Social and Emotional Development
Playing together with your children is very important because it teaches them social skill sets that will help them navigate social life more easily.
Play with your kids helps learn skills such as turn-taking, sharing, and selflessness. It teaches them the importance of taking responsibility and encourages self-control skills and empathy.
Interaction between you and your child supports communication skills and teaches them how to negotiate and express their needs, thoughts, and feelings in an assertive, yet respectful way.
2. Play with Your Child Helps You Spot the Difficulties
The way your child plays (or the absence of play whatsoever) can help you identify potential difficulties or delays in your child’s development. For example, a child on the autism spectrum will show little to no interest in playing with toys or engaging in play with you.
3. Play Helps you Understand Your Child’s Emotions
Playing with a doll aggressively may be a child’s way to express troubling feelings. Kids have the same feelings as adults. However, they lack the communication skills to express these emotions. So, when your child finds it difficult to manage his emotions, pretend-play allows you to assist him with emotional expression. Play helps children work through their feelings.
For example, if your child is scared of going to the doctor or has problems with separation anxiety, play is a great way to help her work through her fears.
4. Play Encourages Confidence and Healthy Body Image
Mutual play with dolls or dress-up props is a great opportunity to encourage a healthy body image and boost confidence and self-esteem in your child.
5. Mutual Play with Your Child Encourages Creativity
As an adult, you can provide a more varied and mature play than older siblings or other children. Different art and craft activities promote imagination, creativity, problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, and motor skills. Prepare items of different shapes, textures, and sizes, and help your child manipulate sensory materials.
6. Play with Your Child Strengthens Your Connection
Finally, playtime is a wonderful opportunity to create a nurturing relationship and bond with your child.
Studies show that a caring and nurturing relationship between a child and a parent (or other caring attachment figures) benefits a child’s development and health on many levels. Mutual play with your child helps kids learn skills essential for healthy development, makes them proud of themselves and boosts their self-esteem and confidence.
Take care and keep healthy and positive,