It is necessary to make play a priority in the first five years of Your Child’s life because it helps to create a special bond between you and Your Child, enhances brain development, strengthens motor skills, and sets the stage for anger management and social interaction.
For little children, unstructured play can take any form, and you are probably Your Child’s favorite playmate. Here a few tips on how to play with your little one:
Follow Your Child’s lead: Give your child a toy or any play object and see what Your Child wishes to do with it. It doesn’t matter if the little one is using the toy in a different way — learn the new way and play along. Children learn the most from play when they initiate it. So, make sure to give Your Child enough room and time to take the lead. If we tell children what to play or how to play it, it becomes boring, reduces the benefits of play on development, and doesn’t teach them important leadership skills.
Take it slowly: Encourage your child to learn how to play with toys without your help. You may show the first few steps in a game and provide just enough guidance to prevent frustration. The aim is to motivate Your Child to learn new skills and develop confidence doing it independently.
Encourage communication: As Your Child plays, react to the sounds or movements your little one is making to show that you are keenly interested in what Your Child is up to.
Read Your Child’s signals: As you may not always understand what Your Child is trying to tell you, try to read gestures and facial expressions to know what the little one wants.
Ensure the play area is safe: Whether you are playing at home or in the park, check the play area to make sure that it is child-friendly and safe for the type of game you want to play with Your Child.
Play again and again: While repeating the same game may not be fun to you, children love repetition as it helps them to learn a game better and feel more confident doing it — mastering new skills give them a great sense of self-esteem.
Ketsupa Jirakarn (Mental health specialist) (31 March 2021)