Child Development & Play: Your Role As A Parent
We’ve discussed how play is a vital part of your child’s development. From a very young age, your children are developing important life skills through playing. This can involve playing with others, solo play, or playing with you. You probably spend the most time with your child, this is particularly true in their preschool years. So, doesn’t it only seem natural that you should be playing a massive role in their development through play? The answer is of course, yes! Now no need to fret, we don’t mean you need to be running around the garden for hours on end, but by all means do if you can muster up the energy! We’ve compiled a few ideas to get your playful side up and running!
How Do Children Learn?
First and foremost it’s important to know how your child learns. Children (especially those in their early years) are very much so sensory learners. They learn through taste, touch, seeing, hearing, and smelling. Seeing and hearing is probably the means they learn through the most. These senses are linked to observation. As your child grows into a mini adult they are observing everything, that means you are their main source of observation. By playing with your child they are observing appropriate social interactions, and learning to develop reactions.
What’s Your Role As A Parent?
Now you know just how intensely your little‘un is observing you and your behaviour, it’s time to lead by example!
Take a moment…
Rather than diving in all guns blazing, hang in the background and watch your child play. See what toys they gravitate towards, if they’re a little older see how they get on with other kids.
Once you think you have a grasp on what your child is about, engage them in play. Let them take the lead, but not to a stage where they’re being rude or bossy. If they seem stumped on how to do something or how to react to a social situation (as can be the case in older kids), subtly step in and let them follow your example!
Use your imagination…
It can be hard, but it’s important to shed your adult train of thought when engaging in play with your child. A toy to a child has many different uses. While you may think a toy telephone should be used to mock-play a phone call, your child may find that today that toy phone is a rocketship! This is perfectly fine. It’s very important your child (and you) embrace their creative side and use their imagination!
Once your child has hit pre-teen years you may feel your role has ended. It’s important to remember your child is still developing. While it may seem that you’re the last person they want to be around, for your own sake, this is a stage where maintaining a strong bond is crucial. While they may not play with toys or want to put on puppet show anymore; a trip to the cinema, or attending a sporting event together is a great way to engage your child and develop their social skills!
Likewise with fully fledged teenagers, promote their independence but make an active effort to stay involved in their life and development. They’ll thank you for it one day!