Parent-Child Play: What Gets in the Way?

Interacting and Connecting with Your Child: 7 Tips

Dear Fellow Moms,

Need a few reminders to help make parent-child play more fun for both you and your child this week?

– Try simply sitting back and watching your child as he plays: you might be amazed at what you see! At age four my son taught me a dozen games to play with blocks–without building anything. Making trails. Matching colors with other toys. Playing “basketball”  by pitching blocks into the blocks bucket. Who knew blocks weren’t just blocks?

– Be sensitive to pitfalls of perfectionism, in either you or your child. Most play doesn’t have to be “done right”.

– Be aware of too high (or too low) expectations. When preschoolers use glue, it will get on the table. Let your child’s developmental age (and your own tolerance for mess) guide choice and time length of activities.

– Be honest and flexible. Sometimes it’s O.K. to say, “I’m not crazy about playing that. Let’s do something we both like.”  But often a child feels well loved if you do exactly what he wants to. He may allow some variations: when I tired of telling Goldilocks and the Three Bears every night (aaargh!) the story gradually became Phonylocks and the Mare, The Bear, and the Hare.

– Devote some time just for play. Doing chores together can bring togetherness and you can inject some fun into chores. (I will reveal more about how in future posts.)  But be honest. Can you truly get those chores done and give your child focused attention at the same time?  Allow time for both.

– Bear in mind that often your child doesn’t want toys. She wants YOU: Made by God, batteries not included. (Sometimes I wish they were!) But playing with toys together can connect you, and  you can regenerate your child’s interest in old, forgotten toys by playing with them yourself.  Scattered and ignored Fischer Price little people come to life again when your child sees you pretend with them in a squeaky voice.

– Accept that your child will not always thank you for playing. When he cries “You never play with me!” you may throw up your hands in despair, reminding him of the two hours you spent yesterday making pirate maps.  However, the accumulation of your time together is molding your relationship and your child’s character. It helps reveal your child’s personality to  you, as well as yours to your child.

You will build memories that are not forgotten, and at some point your child will thank you for that, in his or her own unique way.

Play on!


Today’s blog was excerpted from The Power of Parent-Child Play, Chapter 13: Copyright 2003-2009, Laurie Winslow Sargent. To receive future posts via email, by clicking the Subscribe button at the top right in this blog: OR subscribe via RSS feed (click the gold square in your browser bar).

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