Who doesn't like unsolicited advice by a total stranger?

Parenting: the importance of free play

For a few months now, I had been planning activities for my son. But then, his imagination skyrocketed. He makes up his stories and games. He invites us to play. He has the funniest ideas. So, I stopped creating activities for him. Why bother when the world he creates is so wonderful?

I think that as a stay-at-home mum I felt the pressure to do something more. I never pictured myself doing Pinterest-worthy toddler activities. But I did some activities with stickers and some fun and easy invitations to play. I feel that at the time, these invitations to play like sensory bins were necessary to entertain us.

IMG_20171214_141421518.jpgNow, we don’t need them. Which is wonderful. We learn a lot together through his free play. Don’t underestimate the curiosity of children, they don’t need us constantly teaching them things to learn. They learn constantly trough imitation, experiencing and asking. Let them imitate you, experience the environment and ask you a million questions.

With this post, I want to encourage any stressed parent to just relax, you don’t need to act like a pre-school teacher to be a good parent. In fact, I would like you to read the paper The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds by Kenneth R. Ginsburg and the Committee on Communications, and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. Here are some highlights:

“Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers.”

“… but when play is controlled by adults, children acquiesce to adult rules and concerns and lose some of the benefits play offers them, particularly in developing creativity, leadership, and group skills. In contrast to passive entertainment, play builds active, healthy bodies. In fact, it has been suggested that encouraging unstructured play may be an exceptional way to increase physical activity levels in children”

“Despite the numerous benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for some children.”

“Play remains an ideal venue for parents to engage fully, and child professionals must reinforce the value of this play. Some play must remain entirely child driven, with parents either not present or as passive observers, because play builds some of the individual assets children need to develop and remain resilient.”

This last one is my favourite as it highlights the damage created by marketing:

“Parents need to feel supported to not passively accept the media and advertising messages that suggest there are more valuable means of promoting success and happiness in children than the tried, trusted, and traditional methods of play and family togetherness.”

So, I guess that what I’m trying to say is let your child be a child, get on your fours and join his/her imaginary world. Be happy in the now and stop worrying about the future and about what other parents say.

Good luck!


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