As parents, we have many responsibilities (e.g., cooking, cleaning, running errands, work, etc.) that taking the time to play with our children seems trivial and often times, it is not prioritized. Many of us do not fully understand the importance of playing with our children, as we believe that children are well-equipped to play on their own (Webster-Stratton, 2005). We believe play is an innate skill (Webster-Stratton, 2005). However studies have shown that creative play diminishes when adults do not play with their children because there is no encouragement for its growth (Webster-Stratton, 2005). Play provides an opportunity for children to develop critical social development skills such as: verbal communication, problem-solving, taking turns, sharing, group cooperation, social participation, perspective taking, and intimacy (Webster-Stratton, 2001). Furthermore, it enhances development of cognitive, sensorimotor, and affective skills (Lowenstein & Sprunk, 2010). When parents engage in play with their children in a child-led, supportive, non-competitive, and attentive way, it helps strengthen the parent-child relationship as it establishes positive experiences and feelings for both the parent and child (Webster-Stratton, 2005). According to Webster-Stratton, "good play with you [the parent] can give your children the chance to reduce their feelings of anger, fear and inadequacy, and provide experiences that enhance feelings of control, success and pleasure" (2005, p. 40). Establishing regular play time with your children will make it easier to initiate play and will be something to look forward to as a family. Make play with your children a top priority. Enjoy the time you have with your children as they grow up so fast.
Lowenstein, L., & Sprunk, T. P. (2010). Creative Family Therapy Techniques: Play and Art- Based Activities to Assess and Treat Families. Retrieved from www.lianalowenstein.com
Webster-Stratton, C. (2005). The Incredible Years: A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 2-8 Years. U.S.A.: Incredible Years.
Webster-Stratton, C. (2001). The Incredible Years: Parents, teachers, and children training Series. Innovative Mental Health Interventions for Children: Programs That Work, 31- 45.