“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We All Need Playtime. Let’s Have Some Fun!
A child needs playtime.
“Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children.” This is from The Importance of Play in promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds, The American Academy of Pediatrics, Jan. 2007.
From that same article is this quote: (I added bold print). “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development.4–6 It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.”
A parent NEEDS for the child to have playtime.
The first reason why is obvious to most people. It would be a huge understatement to say that taking care of young children is an energy-draining activity. If the child is able to play without the parent right next to him or her, it gives the parent a breather, even if it is for only a short time.
The second reason may not be so obvious. If the parent does decide to interact with the child while the child is doing something of his/her choice, it begins to establish a strong bond between the two. It needs to be child led, however, not parent led. And, it really works best if the parent wants to do this and is genuinely enjoying the time and activity with the child.
It doesn’t mean that parent led times aren’t important, too. But if you are showing real interest in a child’s chosen interest and play, and respecting the way he or she is doing it, it is a very special time, even if it is just for a few minutes.
Respect the child’s rules for playtime.
This is what I mean. Little Johnny is building with blocks. Don’t sit down on the floor next to him and start to tell him you have a better way. Let him discover what works. Talk to him about what he is doing. Be appreciative of his abilities and plans and imagination. That’s easier said than done, sometimes. Especially if we get involved in the finished product ourselves. But remember, this is playtime. It’s a time to be creative and use imagination, and to develop skills in using brain and body to accomplish something.
Having time to play the way we choose is important for adults, too. “Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships, ” says Margarita Tartakovsky, in an article entitled The Importance of Play For Adults.
We all need playtime! Young or old, our lives are better if we have a little fun! What does your child or grandchild like to play with you?