Making Time for Play:
Create moments that help build connections
Thinking back to your childhood, did your parents play with you? Maybe they weren’t the type to crawl on the floor and act out puppies with you, but they knew just what to say to get you giggling? Maybe a quick game of tickle monster after bath time? Singing special songs in the car? As you think back to those times, what feelings are you getting? The feelings we have associated with those little moments are what stay with us as we get older, and they get tucked into our memories.
Not only does play help us feel loved, but in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical report, The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, explains and supports the benefits of play. The report explains how and why playing supports brain development, physical health and helps in building social bonds. Planning, organizing, learning to regulate emotions, and relating to others benefit children playing with caretakers and peers. In addition, play helps with language, math and even helps children cope with stress.
Making time to play
Young children really do make playing look fun. If you happen to have a little one at home, spend some time watching them as they move from pretending to be a kitty to “baking cookies” in their play kitchen. It’s pretty impressive how they can create a whole story from just one idea! This creativity is what helps build their self-confidence. If you can, join in and experience the world of imagination! It’s easy for adults to forget how much fun it is. What’s even cooler is that these moments of play with your child help them feel connected to you, their caretaker. You are helping them understand that they matter and are cared for just by engaging in play with them.
It’s well known that school-aged children are being encouraged more and more to focus on academics when at school with homework, and time for free play and recess is decreasing. With that knowledge, it is even more imperative that parents and caretakers offer moments of play throughout the day. It might mean that not everything on your to-do list gets checked off or that your complete every chore, but for the sake of our children’s development, play must happen. As life starts to pick up and schedules are getting set for older children, it’s essential to be mindful that free time and playtime are in thier plans.
Not only do young brains need playtime, but so do older children. They are easily sucked into their devices and most likely unaware of how much time they are spending on them. Social media easily makes them feel like they are social. However, in reality, it’s not helping them practice the necessary social skills they need to develop as they move into young adulthood. Encourage your teen to spend time with their friends and off of their screens. To better understand the impact screens have on our brains, check out Katie’s recent blog about screen time here.
As we head farther into summer, see how you can find time for play in your day. It really doesn’t need to take a long time, and it helps build a bonding relationship with your little one. When we have a shared experience of feeling seen, cared for, and loved, we are more likely to feel safe and secure. This security is what helps children grow and feel ready to take on the world as adults.