AN ADULT’S ROLE WHEN PLAYING
Allow the child to lead during play and let him give direction. Let the child determine what you will play and how within the limits of safety and time constraints. Join in a child’s play but only when invited to do so. As the child lets you into his world of imagination and creativity, give him complete control. Remember this is his world. This attention you are showing while playing with a child is essential to building his self-esteem. You are giving him the message that his world is fun and important to you, too.
Child psychologist and executive producer of the BBC series Child of Our Time, Dr Tessa Livingstone, offers play tips:
- Pick games you will both enjoy
- Follow the child’s lead
- Appreciate the effort rather than praise the ability
- Don’t lecture or criticise
- Don’t force the child to follow rules
- Allow the child to take things apart
- Give your undivided attention
Just think about how good you feel when you have participated in something you really enjoy. That is what play is all about. When we play we have fun.
Press the reset button and take a look at how we allow children to spend play time. Set boundaries for yourself and for the children around screen time and take a back-to-basics approach. Incorporate play into your family time and limit structured activities age-appropriately. While structured activities are part of growing up and an essential part of early childhood development, it remains imperative that young children have:
- Enough free time to play – daily
- A safe place to play. Children need to be in a secure place before they are brave enough to stretch their intellectual boundaries and play imaginative games.
- Friendly, responsible adults to play with.
By allowing children their right to play and making sure that they have time for daily, free, unstructured play, we are enhancing their natural capabilities for intense, self-motivated learning. Just let them get on with the business of play!
- Livingstone, T. Child of our Time. London: Bantam Press. 2005:280.
- West J. Child-Centred Play Therapy. London: Edward Arnold. 1994:11
- Oaklander V. Windows to Our Children. Utah: Real People Press. 1978:160