The Importance of Mindful Play with Your Children

Written By: Cristine Seidell, LAPC


 Most parents have been asked by their children to come play with them.  It is a dreaded question for many parents, as they feel they have “forgotten” HOW to play or they feel guilted into playing.  Yet, research has proven that playing with your child not only provides fun for both child and adult, but also an opportunity for bonding, acceptance, and the development of new skills for the child.  SO for all of the reasons why, here are a few ways to get started:

1.      Allow your child to invite you to play.  Children love to be creative in their play and may design a game that sounds familiar, yet they have made completely new rules to play by.  Give them the time to discuss them with you, ask questions, but don’t correct them.

2.      Desire to play with your children.  Children are notorious for approaching us when we are juggling 150 different things.  We may be on edge for a deadline or trying to gather ourselves to be able to prepare for a dinner party.  If your child requests to play with you, but you are unable to freely play at that moment.  Explain you can’t play right now, but really would like to play in ______ minutes/hours.  Whatever you say, make sure you follow through with it.  Children are amazing score keepers.

3.      Be open to different types of play.  Not all children play the same way.  Just because you like video games, doesn’t mean your child has to play what you want if you play with them.  Rough and Tumble, Board Games, Figures, and Sandlot Sports are just a few you can suggest if your child is clueless on what he/she would like to play.

4.      Play should be a two-way street.  Neither the parent, nor the child should be 100% in control.  If your child creates a game and agrees to play by a certain set of rules, but decides to change them.  It is important to remind your child that a set of rules were established and it important to play accordingly.  Similarly, if your child chooses to play figures and is building a wall that you feel could be built better, withhold from interjecting your opinions and allow your child to problem solve or be content with it as it is.  It is about play nor perfection.

At first parents finding playing feels a bit awkward and forced, but as they continue, they find that they enjoy the time and they themselves reap the same benefits that their children do.  So, put whatever electronic device you are reading this on down and get out and PLAY!!!


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