Research tells us that parents who engage in “playful parenting” have an easier time with their children than those who don’t. The same study also found that children who play with their parents have a significantly healthier and stronger bond with their parents and other children compared to those who don’t. Being a parent comes with many responsibilities, and playful parenting should be one of them.
For most children, play comes naturally. Yet, for us as adults, it may be the last thing on our minds after a busy day, stress, and never-ending chores. We end up delaying playtime until the weekends after we have had enough rest. Playing is a critical part of child development. The more they play, the more they explore, develop good habits, and interact well with their peers.
So how do you practice playful parenting and build a strong relationship with your child? Here are a few tips to help you out.
Put it in your schedule
Good parenting means creating time to spend with your child. No matter how busy your schedule may be, it is imperative that you carve out time to spend with your child. If you’re worried that you might forget or get distracted, set aside some time for playing with your child. You can even inform children about their special time set aside with you; they are likely to remind you and look forward to it. That way, you won’t have to worry about missing these essential “sessions”. To make things even better, you can allow your child to make a list of the games he or she would like to play with you. Soon enough, your child’s joy for playing with you will make you look forward to joining them.
Start your day with some play
We all have a morning routine that we stick to, but have you ever thought how your day would go if you started off by engaging in some playtime with your child? Many young children are early risers. So you probably don’t need to worry about the need to wake your child up to play. Some quick pillow games or running across the room can be a great way to start your day. If it’s summer, you can take your games outside to the garden and play in the grass before heading inside to bathe and get ready for work. This strategy works best especially if your child tends to have trouble detaching or becomes clingy or cries when you have to leave for work.
Let yourself look and sound silly
Part of playful parenting involves being creative, so don’t be a boring playmate! Don’t be afraid to act silly and, for once, act like a child. For example, you might play games that involve you being the baby and your child being the parent. You can even make childish noises and act goofy, which will no doubt be very entertaining for your little one. Remember, playful parenting shouldn’t involve you ordering your child around. Allow your kid to be the boss and follow their commands. Let loose and act the way your child wants you to act, and even talk like them. Make silly faces and funny movements. If you haven’t done this kind of thing in a while, it may not come naturally, but with time you will perfect your craft. This kind of play fully engages your child in the game, and they will have more fun laughing with you.
Make boring jobs fun
Work is not always fun, and sometimes we have really bad days. Your child also has bad days, and he or she may not enjoy clearing and putting away their toys after play. Try combining things. Instead of sulking on a day gone bad, why don’t you use that time to engage positively with your little one? You can play together and help them put away the toys. If you assign tasks, try to make them as enjoyable as possible. You can achieve this by helping out, creating a game, or offering a reward for a job well done. You can also crack jokes to make your child laugh. You will be surprised at how cooperative they become after that laughter. This can create some great bonding time.
Lastly, you can use puppets to engage your child. Try using different kinds of toys to experiment with this. You can get all dramatic and develop different characters that will leave your child collapsing into laughter. If you are the father, try wearing a wig and put on some silly makeup. If you can imitate their favorite cartoon characters, that’s even better!
As you can see, carving out time for playful parenting is not that difficult. In fact, you’ll even end up having a great time with your kid. Always look for those opportunities that can create a lively connection between you and your little one. Whatever the situation, you can eliminate boredom by following these tips.
At Akers Academy, we are all about loving and caring for your child. Check out more of our Parent Resources for more information.