Children and Play

February 14, 2015 Published by

When they are not sleeping or eating, children are playing and learning through play is an important part of childhood development. As a parent you are often called on to get involved and whilst many enjoy playing with their child, most will admit that some activities can leave them screaming inside with boredom or frustration.

playing with childrenBalanced Play

Children need time to play:

  • Alone, as this teaches them how to take control of their life and how to combat boredom. They learn to use their own initiative.
  • With other children, to teach them valuable social skills. Co-operative role playing can boost their imagination and help them explore their emotions.
  • With their parents or other adults in their life, to model themselves on so children learn new skills.

All types of play provide benefits to your child and it is balancing the play diet that is important.

Adult Involvement

playing with childrenSpending time interacting with your child is valuable to both of you as it helps promote a strong bond and allows your child to feel confident and secure. However the time you spend together should be authentic and feeling comfortable with the activity is paramount. If you do not enjoy certain types of play then it is okay to admit this. Children like repetition as it helps to cement their learning but adults often find it tedious and mentally difficult to endure. No longer should parents feel guilty for saying they don’t want to do certain activities or play with their child in a specific way. Don’t compare yourself to other parents as we are all different and what works for one family may not work for yours.


How to Play with Your Child

playing with childrenSpend some time working out what activities you do enjoy doing with your child and focus on those. It’s okay to take the role of their parent rather than their friend and avoid any play you find boring. Do you prefer:


Try to slot them into your routine so you can look forward to playing with your child. There may be other adults in your child’s life such as grandparents, aunts, uncles or older cousins who enjoy different styles of play to you, so encourage those interactions for a balanced approach.


Focus on the quality of time you spend with your child. Many children won’t remember what you did or didn’t do on a specific day but they will remember how they felt when playing with you. Sharing activities is the key – whether it’s cooking together, going for a walk/bike ride or reading – as long as it’s fun and both you and your children enjoy it, it will be good for your relationship and their development.


Choose an activity that you enjoy and focus your attention there. Positive time together is what matters to leave your child feeling valued, special and knowing that they enriched your life.


Photos: davitydave, Matt Molinari & Brisbane City Council


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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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