Play, play, play!
If you throw the word “play” up in the search bar of this particular blog, you’ll find a plethora of articles on children and play.
But there’s another point I want to touch on when it comes to play. This article comes from a time a few years ago when my oldest child was almost two years old. I was trying to make dinner and the typical battle of trying to either keep her busy in the kitchen, or distract her with toys outside of the kitchen ensued. I generally love cooking, but have such a hard time with it when I have a kid standing right at my feet demanding attention!
I kept saying the same thing over and over to her-
“Go play! Please! Go find some toys and play!”
This battle continued for days and weeks on end. Nothing ever worked!
I started researching online ways I could get my daughter to play on her own, and there were some great ideas out there. However, I read one piece of advice that I so badly wished I would have saved so I could reference! But the article stated this-
Play is not something that just comes naturally to every kid, it’s a learned skill they all need to develop over time.
It was such simple advice, yet it was still advice that changed my whole perspective! I was a great parent at pulling out a sensory bin or whipping up a quick color match activity. However, I was never a parent that pulled out the blocks and showed my daughter how to build. Or drive the toy cars. We never played pretend with the baby dolls or made the plastic animals move. If no one ever showed her how to play with the toys, why should I have expected her to know what to do with them?
Over the next several weeks we spent time down on the floor together building towers and rocking babies to sleep. And then it was a slow transition to “invitations to play” where I would leave out a small set up to spark my daughter’s imagination and I would let her take it from there.
Eventually, she learned the skill of play, and making dinner became so much easier! We continued to practice playing together and she continued to practice it by herself when I needed the time to be alone. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start in the right direction.
My hope is that if you’re struggling with getting your child to play by themselves as well, this article can be eye-opening for you as well.
Tell me in the comments how you helped your child learn the art of play!