The most important and valuable thing to a child is playing. It is how they learn, discover, and enjoy the world. But playing does not come easy to many people so if you get bored playing legos after 30 seconds don’t feel guilty….but don’t pick up your cell phone to check your messages either!
There are times when playing is work (and just something you have to do as a parent). There are times when hearing your child play the same song on their piano 55 times is utterly agonizing! However, as parents there are times we must put on our happy face and pretend that what they are playing is beautiful. Remember to try to find the humor in these situations and it will get you through the agony. There are also times when we can learn to find enjoyment in playing with our children…here’s how..
1. PUT ON SOME MUSIC! Music can help pass time and add some enjoyment to your activity. Put on some happy music and dance around while you play with your child. Be cautious about putting on the t.v because this will change your focus to something other than spending time with your child.
2. ASK YOUR CHILD QUESTIONS How do you feel when you are doing something you enjoy and someone notices and asks you about it? You feel good, right? So does your child! Playing is a great opportunity to learn about your child. Ask him or her what is their favorite color, favorite train, why they like what they are playing, or if they can teach you something about their activity. Show your interest in them.
3. FIND AN ACTIVITY YOU BOTH ENJOY Find activities that both you and your children really enjoy! What activities did you enjoy as a kid? What hobbies do you enjoy now that could be transformed to be kid friendly? Whether you enjoy fashion, running, or cooking…find a way to make it a fun activity to do with your child.
4. BE REALISTIC ABOUT WHAT YOUR CHILD CAN DO AT THEIR AGE. I remember trying to read books to my first child when she was a baby as she squirmed out of my arms. Also, trying to teach her to play Candy land as she was doing somersaults in between taking her turns. Pay attention to your child’s ability to participate in an activity and know when to throw in the towel. Just because a game says that it is for kids ages 3+ does not mean that your child is ready and capable.
5. GIVE A CHOICE. If you ask a child if they want to play a game while they have a choice to watch a t.v show, they will probably say they would rather watch a show. I often tell my daughter that she can finish watching her show-then it will be play time with Mommy. Remember to act excited and be present. If you need to, set a timer and guard your time with your child from checking facebook statuses, talking to a friend or watching t.v...these are things that can wait until later!