To a child, playing is learning!
Play does not have to be structured, it can be any activities that your children enjoy. It can be drawing, dancing, make-believe, stacking boxes, re-organising your pantry, chopping the vegetables or running around with friends or siblings…
PLAY can be anything (any daily interactions) as long as your child is having fun doing it. It empowers your child to learn about their environment, experience their feelings and learn how to cope with them.
Build trust and connection
When parents play with their children and have fun with them, children will feel special, loved and cherished. It feels special because it makes your child happy to know that mum and dad enjoy being with them, and this helps them to feel secure and loved. Further, playing with mum and dad will develop other positive relationships as they grow.
Playing together creates an opportunity to connect with your children, through touching, laughing together and communicating. This enables you and your child to develop closer relationships and bond. Your child learns to build the trust that you are the go-to-person. She will know that whenever she is stressed or afraid, you will be the go-to-person she will look for when seeking safety and comfort.
Reduce stress and self-sooth
Children experience as much emotion daily as any adult, such as frustration, disappointment, jealousy, fear, happiness, sadness, anxiety…
When your children are stressed, they need to release these stressful emotions either through temper tantrums, crying, yelling, hitting or PLAY.
For a young child, his brain-section that is in charge of language, speech and emotion is still developing and nervous systems are still developing. Due to their lack of language/speech capabilities they are still learning how to deal with all those stressed emotions and do not know how to express them at the same time.
When you calm your crying baby, whether through hugging, rocking her to settle her down, singing to her or gently patting her, you are teaching your child how to calm down and settle her emotions.
A really fun way to deal with stressed kids (older) is through play.
When you sense a meltdown is inevitable, introduce play – such as chasing them in the park or around the house, singing songs together, playing musical songs by banging pots and pans. You are literally helping them to release their pent up energy through happy screams and laughter, physical interactions and activities (playing catch or running around). Play (also recommended for adults) helps to release the pent up stress and helps them to calm down.
Through this experience, your child will gradually learn how to regulate his emotions and how to calm down when he is upset – thus developing emotionally and becoming more aware.
One important point to note is that through your connections with your children, it enables your child to feel safe to express his or her feelings. They trust that you will be on their side, and you are able to empathise with their feelings, upsets and difficult behaviour. Your children will feel heard and understood, and thus learn to relax and let go of their fear, anxiousness and upsets. This way, they learn how to regulate their emotions and feelings.
Play empowers children to learn about their environment, experience their feelings and how to cope with them. And play means fun.