Part 1 of Get On The Floor can be found right HERE. In brief summary, playing with our kids allows us to build a strong relationship built on trust and respect that can carry through to adolescence when it is invaluable. Additionally, we are building little humans during the early years and it is important to recognize play time as an opportunity to teach many lessons that our children will carry with them. Kids learn through play and we can take advantage of that. There are several other reasons we should get on the floor with our children.
BUILDS PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS
This goes hand in hand with the learning aspect mentioned above, so I just want to go into it briefly. Kids often get frustrated when they aren’t able to do something easily on their own. Many parents don’t truly recognize this until school begins assigning homework and their kids begin to ask mom and dad to do it for them. This tendency can be reduced by helping our kids learn problem solving skills earlier on. We do this by helping them to figure out how to accomplish challenging tasks on their own, rather than simply doing it for them ourselves. This requires patience on the part of the parent because it is easy to end a tantrum by just doing it for our child. The short-term struggle for the parent will pay off long-term by helping your son or daughter learn the process of problem solving, as well as the importance of hard work. At this moment, we are trying to teach Mary how to put her own clothes on. It is so hard to watch her struggle to get the shirt over her head, and to find the holes for her arms. Every single time I am tempted to jump in and make it easier for her (and me!), and I have to remind myself of the lesson she is learning that her struggles pay off, because she is always able to do it eventually! The smile on her face when she finally succeeds is priceless.
REDUCE BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS
This one gets into my work with children and their parents. Most parents bring their child to see me because of significant behavior problems that no amount of time outs or corporal punishment has seemed to address. If for no other reason, giving your children ample focused play time at an early age has been shown to reduce the development of these types of behavior problems! When kids feel important and valued, they want to keep that status and avoid disappointing their parents. When kids don’t feel important, they are more likely to act out, connect with undesirable peers, and cause many headaches for their parents. Kids enjoy attention, and acting out usually gets their parents’ attention. A hard truth is that negative attention is still attention. It takes as little as 15 minutes of attentive play each day to help build the positive relationships that can avoid these outcomes. My wife and I have both noticed a difference in how Mary treats her sister depending on whether or not we’ve had the chance to play with her. She is more rough when we’ve plopped her in front of the TV too much, or asked her to play by herself for too long. We are quickly learning the signs that we better play horses or build a castle to avoid a tantrum or aggressive behavior towards her sister.
And of course the unspoken thing here is that parents can end up struggling with anxiety or depression because of the challenges posed by their children. While you may be feeling overwhelmed with trying to cram another thing into your schedule. While “forced fun” may not seem like what you’d like to be doing with that spare time. I hope these past two posts have shown a few of the numerous reasons it is worthwhile to take time out of your day and to get on the floor with your kids! It’s never too late to start this process, whether your child is 3 or 10, or whether they are acting out or not. Try and schedule yourself that time (and I literally mean put this on your calendar to begin with) starting today! Maybe you’ll come to enjoy that time as well. I have plans for future posts that will go into detail on how to play with your kids, because not all of us had the best role models when going through our own childhood. Believe me, it is something you can learn to do… and your kids will LOVE you for it!
Let me know if you have any questions, or are interested in scheduling a free consultation.