You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Play is important child’s work!

If you are a kid…then play is your work!  If you are an adult…then learn to play!

Sit for a moment and watch your child.  Just watch…don’t jump in and give your child something to play with…just watch what your child will do.  Children, if left alone and given the opportunity,  will play happily with whatever is there.  We parents don’t have to do anything or buy anything!  Wew!  One less thing on your “to do” list!  As a matter of fact, parent led play or very organized play is not as valuable as your child  playing on his own!

There has been a decrease in the amount of free play time our children have over the last 50 years.  Our children now have less recess time at school, go to preschool at an earlier age, have more toys than children of years ago, watch more TV and play video games, play on more organized sports teams and at a younger age…all of this combined has resulted in less true free play time.  Much of our children’s play has become adult led and organized.  So, why is this a problem?  Child led free play is so much more valuable!  Free play is a child’s work and it…

  • Helps children learn how to work in groups, share, negotiate
  • Helps children build a foundation for problem solving
  • Helps children figure out the world they live in
  • Helps children develop decision making skills
  • Helps children find their interests and passions
  • Helps develop imagination
  • Helps children try on different roles, learn empathy for others
  • Helps increase language skills
  • Helps foster creativity
  • Helps children learn about nature and their environment

Adult led organized play can stifle all of this child’s work. Adult led play forces children to play according to adult rules and this decreases their creative play and their development of leadership skills.  Watch your child, they often play with a toy much differently than the way a toy is “supposed” to be used!  If left alone, a child will create all kinds of ways to play with a simple toy, if it is not a “one button wonder”.  So many of the newer toys do one thing with a push of a button, these types of toys leave little to a child’s imagination or creativity.   Going back to some of our basic toys like blocks, puzzles, stacking cups, books and dress up clothes may be much more valuable to our children’s development.   Research also shows us that a child really only needs 30 minutes of adult led play a day but at least 60 minutes of child led play a day.  So often we parents feel like it is our responsibility  to lead our child in play!  Child led play is also better than play that is “entertainment” based like TV, video and computer games, and movies.  The less screen time a child has before the age of 2 the better!  This type of “play” decreases creativity and active play which may be part of the reason we are struggling with an increase in childhood obesity.

Play at every stage of development in childhood is more than just  fun, it is a child’s right and a necessity.  As a society, I think we underestimate the importance of play.  Do you want your child to be happy and successful?  Don’t tell your child to just “hit the books” but tell him to “go play.”

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.




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