The Unexpected Benefits of Playing WITH Your Kids
by Kerry Finch ■ Updated: August 26, 2019
For years now, we’ve heard about how important play is for children. Not only is play fun, but it has been shown to be a natural learning method that teaches kids important life skills – even from a very young age.
Play allows children to explore their world and exercise their imagination, which improves creativity and resilience. Playing with others helps develop social skills, like sharing and self-control. And active play is one of the best ways to improve important physical skills, like coordination and balance.
Most kids love playing with their parents – they revel in the attention, and it makes them feel special. Beyond this, the benefits of parent-child play are quite different ways to those of solo play and play with siblings.
How it benefits the kids
Parents have a maturity and worldliness that the child – and their siblings/peers – do not possess. This usually makes their play more structured and varied, which has been shown to help with early social interactions and increased imagination.
It has also been shown that children (particularly infants and pre-schoolers) focus more on activities that require a partner when they also play with their parents. This requires a greater level of interaction and collaboration, which are important social skills.
How it benefits the adults
The most obvious benefit of joint play is that strengthens the bond between parent and child. In fact, the parent-child play has been shown to increase the parent’s levels of oxytocin – the “love hormone” – which is critical to bonding.
Playing with your kids also allows you to better understand who they are and what interests them. It can help you identify their strengths and preferred learning style, as well as areas they may need extra support.
Ideas for playing together
There are many different types of play, and you can get involved in almost all of them. Children benefit from experiencing a wide variety of play, so we suggest you try:
- Outdoor play – get outside and throw a ball, launch a rocket, fly a kite, go swimming, play with bubbles, hula-hoop and skip.
- Musical play – dance and sing along to their favourite songs, play instruments, practice and perform.
- Card and board games – encourage them to create their own games, teach them to take turns and how to win and lose.
- Arts and crafts – encourage self-expression by building things, painting things, writing things, and cooking things.
Here at Cool Things Australian we have a sensational, sometimes quirky, range of products to help grow the child-adult play experience. If you’re stumped for ideas, why not ask us for some suggestions?