As important as the right toys are to play and child development, there is one element even more important.
Yes, you have a huge role in your child’s play. In fact, you have five of them. Let’s break them down.
Your first role is the obvious one. Giving your child a safe, comfortable place to play with proper supervision is vital. Creating a dedicated play space is always a great idea, but also remember, kids will play anywhere, so pay attention to your surroundings. You can have all the rules about not throwing a ball in the house, but at some point, a ball will get thrown.
Once you have a place for them to play, your next role is to watch and observe how they play. Do they like to lead or follow? Do they prefer directorial or participatory styles of play? Do they have a long or short attention span?
The more you watch, the more you’ll see they kinds of toys that most appeal to them. This will make you a much smarter toy shopper.
You provide the toys they play with. You make those choices for them, especially when your children are younger. Even with older children you still have some control over what you provide for them to play. If you have been observing well, you will make better choices for them which has several benefits for both you and your child.
- Longer play time per toy means you actually spend less on toys
- Better choices help children grow their imagination and brain power
- When your kids play longer, you get more time to do what you need to do
Sometimes you will want to join in the play with your child. Maybe they have invited you to eat at their kitchen or join their tea party. When you join them, join at their level. Let them direct and lead the play.
Not only are you encouraging them to learn social and leadership skills, you are letting them develop at their own pace.
I was teaching a class on this once and a parent told me she took away her 2yr old son’s blocks because he, “wasn’t playing right.” He was sorting them by shape and size and color instead of stacking them as she believed he should be doing.
I asked her if he was having fun.
“Oh yes, he was singing to himself the whole time he was sorting.”
Then let them play!
Your role is not to force the play upon them, but to follow
their lead and play where they are at today.
#5 HAVING FUN
Finally, have fun! Be childlike in your wonder and
amazement. When you play, forget everything else and immerse yourself in the
When my boys were born, my mother-in-law shared this bit of wisdom of why she always played with her kids when they were young.
“I brought them into this world. It is only fair that I let them show it to me.”
Although we aren’t sure who said it first, the truth is, “A family that plays together, stays together.”
When you give your child a Safe Place to play, Observe how they play, Provide the right toys for play, Follow along in their play, and Have Fun, you become that family.
Phil Wrzesinski, National Sales Manager, HABA USA
Phil, like his grandfather and father before him, has been in the toy industry his entire life, helping thousands of parents make the best choices of toys for their kids.