“Will you play with me?”
What if that dreaded question, which so often feels heavy and tiresome, could transform the relationship you share with your child?
You know your kids need food, water, sleep and comfort to thrive.
But what about play?
If you look at the ways play builds children’s brains, helps them gain mastery, confidence, and resilience, it’s easy to see that play is a vital part of helping children thrive.
Do You Know All These Amazing Ways Play Helps Your Kids?
Look at all play can do to help your child, adapted from the book, The Art of Roughhousing, by Anthony T DeBenedet and Lawrence Cohen.
Did you know these seven amazing facts about play?
- Active physical play (think roughhousing) helps children's brains develop emotional intelligence and helps them get more ethical, joyful and loveable.
- Play is powerful and stimulates neuron growth as well as brain-cell connections. In other words, play builds intelligence!
- Roughhousing and any physical active play can help a child's brain to better understand unpredictability, enhance more flexible behavior and increase their capacity to learn. Could there be a better way to handle all the uncertainty in their lives right now?
- Emotional intelligence requires one person to regulate their own emotions in the face of another's emotions and to accurately read the emotions of others. Play is an excellent way to build this skill.
- Roughhousing allows children to rev up and to calm down. If they experience a bump or a disappointment, and you listen to their feelings, you help them build resilience in the face of the unexpected. and can help them to experience and regulate strong emotions.
- Play teaches much about nonverbal communication.
- And play activates different parts of the brain:
- Active physical play activates the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain, the cerebellum, which handles complex motor control, and the prefrontal cortex, which controls high level thinking and judgement
- A chemical called ‘brain derived neurotrophic factor' (BDNF) also gets released in brains during this type of play. You could think of this as brain “fertilizer.” Who wouldn’t want that?
You can see that play massively boosts a child’s development. Play really helps them build whole lives. Play enhances their emotional and social wellbeing.
But, Why Should You Get Involved in Play?
And play is also a huge force for connection. It has the power to make your entire family feel lighter and more joyful too.
If you’ve been feeling distant from your kids, if you are completely exhausted with nagging them to get off devices, if they are clingy or wanting attention often and seem bored or listless without your presence, then playing with your kids can help.
- Play brings laughter and closeness.
- Play fosters trust.
- Play gives the warm, focused attention that all children need to feel whole, heard, and self-reliant.
- Play helps build cooperation, so that when you make that request to help tidy up, or to turn the iPad or computer off, your children receive it more agreeably.
Sounds good, right?
And Here’s Some Even Better News
To see these results, you don’t need to plan hours upon hours of play, or schedule elaborate playdates and activities.
No. If you want to laugh more together, if you want to feel secure that your children are not languishing on the sofa, if you want peace of mind that play is a regular and nourishing part of your lives together, all you need is just need a few minutes a day.
That’s right. To see this change happen, you can start with just 10 minutes a day.
If play does feel you with dread, 10 minutes can still feel like a long time.
If you don’t have go-to games, how do you know where to start? If your kids roll their eyes when you suggest play, what do you do to stop the resistance? Or what if it’s you who is resistant? If your stomach sinks when your child wants to paint or roleplay princess or kick a ball.
Sometimes, you notice that play actually brings on tears and upset, and you don't really know how to manage that either.
That’s where we can help.
Next week, Instructor Stacy Wilson with help from Alice Ritch will lead a 7 Day Play Challenge on Instagram.
Join us in a week of play and reconnecting with your kids.
Get Started On Your 7-day Play Challenge
Each day, we’ll challenge you to use a specific game for at least 10 minutes with your child or children. We’ll show you the game, the thinking behind it, and what you might expect to see from your kids as you begin to play more.
During those days, you can take note of what worked and went well and what didn't and if you have Listening Partnerships, think about ramping them up.
If you find it hard, reach out for support! Stacy will be answering your questions and concerns.
To get started, follow us on Instagram, at @hand_in_hand_parenting.
The challenge starts Monday April 4th.
Look for a daily post with the game and explanation, check reels for examples of what the game can look like in real life, and watch IGTV for recordings about each game and how to adapt it for different age ranges.
Meet Stacy and Alice and Discover What They Have Planned
Download Your Challenge Printable
Get ready for some fun times with your kids and feel the stress and tension slide away. Use this handy printable every day to record the game and your play.
See you for the first game on Monday!