Play with your children
Playing is learning, and playing together is learning with added fun!
Small children love it when you play with them. It’s not always easy to find the time to do that, though. With the never-ending round of chores and responsibilities, playing can easily get unintentionally sidelined. However, we are seriously missing out if we don’t play with our children – and they are missing out, too. So today’s challenge is to play together!
Benefits of playing
The benefits of playing are enormous, for you and your children . . . so definitely worth taking time out for. Here are a few benefits (many are on the learning theme, but not all!):
Helps with self-discipline: “keeping the rules”.
Refreshes mind and body.
Playing relieves stress.
Playing can aid creativity and problem-solving.
Some games create a challenge to overcome.
It’s great to win!
And it’s great to learn to lose graciously.
Playing builds social skills, e.g. taking turns.
Playing together aids communication skills.
Playing should be lots of fun.
The simple act of playing with our children can bring about all these amazing benefits. It’s also a great way to balance discipline, and for you to take yourself less seriously. Fancy being a pirate? 🙂
A few random thoughts
If your child needs help in a particular area, you might like to think about a game that could help, e.g. a number game if they struggle with maths. But only if it’s fun, OK? 🙂
Games should give everyone playing an equal footing, or it’s only fun for those who have a better chance of winning, or who are in charge of the “rules”.
Competition can separate rather than unite – watch out for this!
So what could you do?
Games don’t have to be board games – they can be games of chase in the park, ball in the garden, pirates in the living room, teddy bears’ picnic in a bedroom . . . with imagination, there are no limits!
Whatever you play, whether it’s building towers of blocks with a baby, trains with a toddler, snakes and ladders with older children, doing a jigsaw puzzle, building a spaceship, dressing dolls, or competing on a computer game, don’t do it half-heartedly.
Engage fully with your children – make it fun, keep eye contact, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by other things, and try not to be too bossy. (Oh, and don’t allow them to be too bossy either!)
If you have a time limit, say so at the beginning, so your children know you will only be able to play one game, or will have to tidy up at seven o’clock, say. That way there won’t be unrealistic expectations.
The time trick
As parents, we need to cultivate the habit of playing with our children while they are small. If we haven’t spent time with them when they have wanted us there, they might not want us to spend time with them when they are older.
If the years have taken you unawares and they don’t seem to want to be with you, do not feel despondent. Never give up – remember, it’s all up from here, because you have decided to make a change! Sometimes older children can be cajoled to join in a game, but if not, keep asking from time to time. At least that way they will know that you are now wanting to spend time with them. Keep praying that one day they will say yes. You could ask what they would like to play – but be prepared to be thrashed at their favourite computer game!
The time when our children are children is such a narrow window – we absolutely must make time to play with them while we can. It’s a trick of time to say “tomorrow”, because those precious hours tick away and it’s all too easy for tomorrow to become today, then tomorrow never comes.
So, go play today, and have fun!
Over to you!
Decide whether to play with all your children together, or play with them separately.
What do they love to play? What do you like to play? If you can choose something you both enjoy, so much the better! Jot down a few ideas in your notebook.
Go find your children and make some suggestions.
Enjoy your game!
Let us know how it went: www.facebook.com/christianparentingchallenge We’d love to see some photos of you playing together. 🙂
“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21
For the future:
Make playing with your children an essential part of your life.