After a long day at work, it can be hard to find the energy to play with your kids. But this time is precious and vital to their development. Unlike unstructured play time with siblings or friends, play time with a parent or other loving adult offers some very special benefits.
Playing with your child helps them develop social skills and self-control. Kids are sponges and soak up information with ease, and this includes learning social ques, boundaries and healthy interactions. Research has linked parent-child physical and pretend play to creativity, memory, gross motor skills, emotional regulation and leadership skills. By engaging regularly with your child in play, you’re showing interest in them, boosting their self-esteem and self-confidence. And nothing compares to building fond memories with parents.
Playing together builds bonds on deeper levels than other normal interactions can. Play adds joy and resilience to relationships and heals resentments or hurts. It creates a space for children to express themselves and process through play. Children learn to trust others and feel safe through play, allowing you to model healthy family dynamics and interactions. Play also teaches conflict resolution and communication skills vital to social development.
Playing with your child isn’t just for their benefit. When you play with your child, your body releases the hormone oxytocin, the key chemical related to parent-child bonding. Playing with your child also helps you to understand your child’s interests, thoughts and feelings. You are able to impart your values through modeling, learn how they communicate best, and how to communicate with them too.
So the next time you think you’re too tired, keep these benefits in mind and invite your inner child out to play!