By Marli Naidoo
Play may be the last thing you want to do after a long day’s adult responsibilities. You enjoy spending time with your child, but you don’t feel like playing games.
Less than a century ago children mainly played with each other where children of all ages could play with others freely in an unstructured way. When parents become involved in the game it must be to be part of it and not to exercise or take control.
Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world. Our children cannot simply disappear out of the door without supervision and simply walk in again at sunset. After school they go home and most of them only see their friends at school. It is our responsibility to see to it that they can spend time with friends.
Children learn from children. If we believe that adults must be present for children to learn something, we’ve got another think coming. There is no better way for a child to learn social skills. If he wants to control the game and tell everybody when to speak and when to keep quiet, the parent will be inclined to either do exactly what the child says or take over control of the game. Children flourish in situations like this. The friend will most probably refuse to be controlled, be totally immersed in the game himself and refuse to play along if his wishes are not taken into consideration too.
It is just as good to play with your children. They’re mad about it and it makes them feel special. The way to a child’s heart and world lies in the time you spend with him. It is not necessary to play games you won’t enjoy. Find something that both of you like.
The best way to help your children learn from you is to be a role model. Allow them to help you, but also to watch you. The saying “don’t do what I do, do as I say” theoretically sounds like good parentship, but the cracks in the model becomes clear when we realise that in the end children adopt our values and actions regardless of what we told them to do.
It is good to play with your children but not essential. Some parents enjoy playing but those who don’t enjoy it do not have to feel guilty at all as long as you make sure that your children can spend time with their friends regularly. It is also essential for them to know how to keep themselves.
Utah State University: https://extension.usu.edu/relationships/faq/the-importance-of-playing-with-your-child
Let Grow: https://letgrow.org/ask-lenore-playing-with-kids/
Child Development Institute: https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/play-work-of-children/pl5/#gs.w57yas
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201409/playing-children-should-you-and-if-so-how