Play Brings Big Dividends

Are you looking for a way to slow down and “de-stress” your busy life?  Try playing with your child!  Try getting back in touch with that playful, creative child inside of you and the imaginative, engaging child in front of you.

Many parents don’t play with their children.  They buy them toys to “occupy” them.  They are missing one of the best ways to “bond” with their child – to strengthen and reinforce the relationship.  Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a pediatric psychiatrist, and author of First Feelings, Milestones in the emotional development of your baby and child, coined the term “Floor Time” and outlines how parents can connect with their children in this emotionally powerful way.

How to Do It

  1. Let the child take the lead and decide what to play. You act as the “stage manager” and help gather the things you’ll need.  Then ask the child what role you should play, and even what you should do.  “What are we playing?”  “Who am I?”  “What should I do?”  Let your child be the train conductor and you be the passenger.
  2. Do what she says. If you’re playing with blocks, copy what the child is building, or build something similar.  In pretend play, go with her idea and play your assigned role.
  3. Add an idea. After you’ve copied her, add a small new idea of your own.  See if she accepts it.  If not, go with her agenda.  Let her add to that idea and see how many back and forth new ideas you can come up with.
  4. Sustain the play. See how long you can keep it going, keeping her interested.
  5. Don’t edit. There are only two rules for your child:  1.)  No hurting, and 2.)  No breaking things.  Otherwise, anything goes.  See where your child takes the play theme.

Materials to Use

This type of play works best with pretend play and dolls, puppets or stuffed animals, or playing with miniatures.

What’s the Benefit?

There are many benefits when you play with your child.  It’s about power.  You are putting your child in a position of legitimate power. He can take the lead and direct what’s happening.  Playing this way can help reduce other “power struggles” you may be experiencing.  It is also suggested that you increase the amount of “Floor Time” play after you have had to discipline your child or impose limits.  It re-establishes the positive emotional connection.

It is also a way of showing your child that you find him interesting and that you value his ideas. “You have such good ideas.  I would never have thought of that.”  You can learn about your child, as well.  You may find out about what is on his mind, or hear some vocabulary you didn’t know he had.

Play becomes richer than when the child plays alone or with an age-mate.  You are teaching your child how to be a good player and how to elaborate roles, add ideas and take suggestions from others.  You are supporting your child’s imagination.

Finding the Time

One suggestion is to turn the TV off for half and hour and play, read or listen to music.  It should be when everyone is reasonably relaxed and not hungry.

Remember, this is what real “quality time” is all about.  It works with any age child, even babies.  You’ll have fun, you’ll laugh, you’ll relax and your child will remember these times.

– Written specifically for Kindermusik International by Karen Miller, Early Childhood Expert, Consultant and Author

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply