Whether it’s make-believe, hide-and-seek, or backyard soccer, toddlers and preschoolers love to play. Play helps them to learn about their world. It can even help them to develop crucial social, language, math, and motor skills. As a parent, you make a special effort to ensure that your child has access to a variety of play areas, tools, and toys. However, playing right alongside your child has a number of benefits too. Here are some reasons why you should play with your child.
Play helps you to understand your child better
You know that your child’s favorite snack is green grapes, and you know that they like to cuddle their stuffed rabbit at bedtime. But do you know why they always want to slide down the tallest slide at the playground, ignoring the sandbox? Playtime is a great opportunity to get to know your preschooler’s unique personality better, and help you to potentially make adjustments to your parenting style or the activities you encourage your child to participate in.
Play helps form a bond between you and your child
As a parent, you are the most important person in your young child’s life, so what could be more of a treat for them than to share their imaginative world with you? Playing with your child will form positive memories for both of you, and it will help them see that they are loved and appreciated just the way they are.
Play helps you to teach your child
Through play, toddlers and preschoolers figure out the world they live in, and their role within it. As such, it is an ideal complement to your everyday parenting. During playtime, you can help your child learn about colors, nature, counting, or music. You can even use play as a low-stakes environment to teach more serious lessons. For example, if your preschooler insists on grabbing the sidewalk chalk out of your hand, you can calmly remind them about a previous discussion on waiting their turn, and explain that you will be done with the purple chalk in a moment. According to Psychology Today, “Play requires negotiation and agreement, so everyone’s needs are met.”
Play helps relieve stress for both child and parent
You may already see the positive effects of letting your toddler or preschooler run and play in the park, or spend a rainy day indoors painting. Play is a chance for children to work through their stress and anxiety. However, it has the same benefits for parents too. You have a busy life, but even ten minutes spent building a pillow fort or playing make-believe with your child can leave you feeling refreshed and less stressed than before.
Playtime is a great opportunity for children to grow and learn in a controlled, safe environment. Playing with your toddler or preschooler will help you to understand your child better, strengthen your connection, complement your parenting, and relieve stress.