Playing with your child is more crucial than you can imagine. Times have changed. And so has parenting. Gone are the days when you could scold your child and make him/her learn a lesson or too. In today’s time, where isolation and depression have started to corner humanity from every angle, your child needs you the most in his/her developing years. Now, it is not enough to just be there by your child’s side as he/she learns about life. It is now important, more than ever, to make this learning interactive. Playful parenting helps you do just that.
Research shows that the parent-child play gives way to a child’s cognitive and emotional development. And when more than 89% parents reported that they enjoyed the playtime just as much as their child did, with over 94% parents who claimed that the parent-child playtime helped them get closer to their child and get to know them – playful parenting is just the right thing to follow. This article is about 7 ways to do playful parenting just right – and teach your child while playing with him/her.
1. Joyful play is the foundation of playful parenting
Joyful playing with your child is one of the easiest and most crucial aspect of playful parenting. Joyful play is easy as making and maintaining eye contact with your baby during your interaction. This also includes smiling from ear to ear and laughing just a little more than your usual amount or duration.
Gestures such as high-fiving and clapping also work miracles when you want your toddler to understand the nuances of social interaction. Moreover, these unexpected gestures will induce feelings of joy in your child. Try to play games such as ‘peek-a-boo’ and hide and seek with your child to involve life lessons while enjoying your playtime.
2. Engage actively with your child’s imagination
Here is the thing. You cannot, and should not, stop your child from expanding his/her imagination. But this will only happen if you engage in playful parenting – actively. Expand the horizons of your child’s imagination through your playtime, and simultaneously, work on expanding his/her practical knowledge as well.
For instance, if your child is looking at the moon with his/her jaws dropped, seeing how it is following you around in your car at night, the best trick is to play along with his/her imagination and point out at the stars next to the moon.
While engaging in playful parenting with your child, you can slowly and gradually explain how the moon is itself rotating around the Earth. This is a smart way of igniting curiosity within your child’s mind about the mysterious universe and assure him/her that you are the parent he/she can always share new discoveries with. It is a win-win situation.
3. Do not get angry at your child
This might sound like the most impossible task a parent ever has had to accomplish. But, in reality, it is one of the most rewarding acts in the parenting category. The idea behind never getting angry at your child is a simple philosophy.
Your child will always mirror your actions, feelings and thoughts. If you are going to raise your voice at your child, one day, he/she is also going to mimic you. Playful parenting means you have to be calm and happy and understanding around your child.
By staying calm and peaceful, you are teaching your child patience. While indulging in playful parenting, it is best to respond to your child’s remarks or actions (no matter how ‘malicious’ or ‘evil’ they are) with a stable mind. React with a smile and explain whatever needs to be explained.
4. Set some time apart for playing with your child
Playful parenting isn’t an easy task if you are a working parent. And in this day and age, most of us are. But that doesn’t mean that you compromise on playtime with your child. This raises a significant question – how do you balance your professional life with sufficient playtime left out for your child?
Here is the thing. You have to strike that balance. Prepare a schedule for the day. Find gaps in between where you can spend enough time with your baby. Make sure to turn off all distractions during that time. No e-mails, facebook or twitter. No work and work calls. Just you and your child – spending carefree moments with each other.
5. Use playful parenting to get the boring tasks done
Maybe your toddler hates cleaning his/her room. Use playful parenting to turn these boring chores into fun activities. Play some music and set up a challenge. Whoever cleans the room quickly gets a candy treat.
You can use playful parenting for similar boring chores and turn them into activities that can strengthen the bond between you and your child. It is really surprising how playing around with things can help you accomplish your daily chores like a pro and, at the same time, instill discipline and responsibility in your child.
6. Take baby steps
Playful parenting is hard. It is not a task one can accomplish overnight. It takes consistency. But more than that, it takes balance. So start small. Take baby steps. Initiate with small gestures and watch how your baby reacts.
If your baby is comfortable with the play, go on. Or devise other play strategies to get your child involved. After all, your parent-child playtime is meant to teach life skills in your child. It won’t help if either of you do not feel involved enough.
7. Be natural at it
You have to be natural at playful parenting. As mentioned earlier, it is equally important for you to be involved in the playtime with your child. If certain gestures and emotions do not come naturally to you, don’t force yourself.
Be yourself, even when you turn into a playmate for your child. Laugh naturally, smile from the bottom of your heart, jump up and down like you are a child yourself. To get playful parenting right, you too, have to turn into a child. That’s the only way to do it.