Every parent knows that children want to play all day long. For them, play is their work, and it’s a good thing they’re so engaged in it. The power of play has been written about numerous times, and you already know it’s more than just about having fun. However, many parents think that it’s enough when children play with their siblings or friends. The truth is that there are some real benefits to parent-child games you may not be aware of.
Play Helps Children Understand the World
Children understand the world through play. When parents get down on the floor and interact with their child, they can add a new level of understanding each time. A child may have had a toy and been using it wrong the entire time. How would a child know that the toy cookies go in the oven and the cookie dough is stored in the fridge if you didn’t show them?
Every time you play with your child, you’ll help them understand the world a little bit better. Even if they’re just silently observing how you play with the toys, they’re learning. You might see them try stacking blocks in a different manner than before, or you may not notice any difference in their play for a while. Either way, your child observes everything to understand how the world works.
Playing Helps Parents Understand Their Kids
When you play with your child, it helps you understand them. As they’re playing and talking to you, they’ll explain how things work in their world. Sometimes, it’s fun to pretend that everything is upside down, and sometimes you get a chance to teach a child how to do it the right way.
Through play, you’ll also get to know your child. You may be surprised to learn what their favorite games are and what kind of games they come up with. Children seem to grow up at the blink of an eye, so parents are often surprised when they realize how fast their kids are maturing. Through play, you’ll also learn other grievances your child may have. For example, they may be imitating real life and point out through play that Mommy or Daddy is always at work and doesn’t have time to play.
It’s a Great Way to Connect
To connect with your child, you must find age-appropriate things to do with them. Toddlers won’t have the ability to play board games, and elementary school kids don’t just want to be tickled. Playing with your child allows you to stay connected with them and understand what moves them. Spending time with them now helps you solidify the bond between the two of you and ensures that you stay connected throughout the years. The games will change as your child matures, but you can have fun at any age with them.
You Can Teach New Ways of Playing
Adults play differently than kids. Kids are creative and come up with a variety of games to play with each other – sometimes with toys, sometimes without. When the adult is part of the game, the game tends to be more structured. Adults need to know what happens when and why, and this can help your child solidify their game.
Parents can also teach their kids new games to play. They may remember their favorite activities from their childhood. Your child will have fun learning how you used to play when you were little, even though they may have a hard time believing that you were a child once, too.
How to Play with Your Child
You already know how to play with your child, but you may want to remember a few ground rules. First of all, it’s best if you don’t interrupt or instruct your child during free play. It’s their game idea, and you are invited to come along for the ride. Second, it’s important to participate in the game. Ideally, you shouldn’t stare at your phone while you’re playing with your child, because they’ll know you’re not really paying attention. If you don’t have a lot of time, put a time limit on your interaction, but make sure you’re fully present in the moment when you’re playing with your child.
Most importantly, you should have fun! Children tend to be flexible, so if the current game isn’t your favorite, you can always make a new suggestion or come up with a variation. It’s special when a child can get their parent to play with them, and it’s fun for both of you.