McKenzie (our 4th daughter) joins us this week to talk about something she is very passionate about! McKenzie is getting married in a few weeks! In the mindset of all the wedding planning, she still made time to talk about today’s topic: The Power of Play!
It’s half way through the summer and this topic is timely! Summer is full of play! While our kids are not in school, they are building their play muscles. We get to lean in and learn something new about our kids in this season.
Sometimes as parents, we think play is pointless or something our kids should do to pass the time. McKenzie is in grad school for counseling and she is learning how play is POWERFUL!
She just finished a class about play therapy and the main theme of the class was, “Play is a child’s language and toys are their words.”Kids are trying to communicate what is going on inside them and around them using play. So, parents, as you see kids play, pay attention and gain insight about their hearts and minds.
What Can Kids Play With?
Kids are unique. Our grandsons are a great example! Truett loves sports and always picks some sort of ball. It’s the language he is confident in! Sebastian loves people, cars, and different characters. He picks something he can create a story with. As they play with each other, they feed off each other’s language and mutually share in the pleasure of each other’s world, language, and toys!
McKenzie is right in the middle of the family. She has 3 older sisters and 3 younger brothers. She played with everything! She remembers how she played with all her siblings in different ways. American Girl Dolls with Macy, tag with Maddox and Cade, and Legos with Michael. All great ways to help develop little Kenzie’s brain and heart.
Parents, don’t worry about your kids playing with gender specific toys. It’s okay to let them play with different toys to build their language. Everything is a way to express and communicate!
Playing developed all kinds of life skills. The girls got a Barbie cash register one Christmas, Bash has a trash truck he loves to play with. The different toys help our kids see our world and discover how to live in it!
Do you kids fight when they play? Do they come to you every 5 minutes and say, “I am bored!”?
Here are a few tips:
They don’t know what they don’t know. Boredom could be a hunger for attention. Find a way to play with them on a daily or weekly basis. Show them how to play and teach them new ways to have fun!
Create Play Autonomy
We, as parents, run our kid’s lives. We are invited to empower and create autonomy using play! You get to teach them how to use toys and words in different ways!
Ex. Play house. Set up a home in their room. Show them where everything goes and how it works. Then let them play in their “home” while you go do something in another room. See how long they will play without you.
Playing with your kids creates mutual respect and bonding. When you take time to join your kid’s world, let them lead or choose, then trust begins to build.
Playing creates safe places for your kids to learn how to make decisions which they will use in the future.
Play Individually With Each Child
Parenting becomes a lot less work when you know how to communicate with your kids. It is so valuable to learn their language when they are young so you are able to speak it as they get older!
Learn their language by playing with them and allowing them to run the show. Ask questions and follow their imagination.
Do you play with your kids? If not, start today!
If your kids argue a lot when playing, chances are they are not speaking each other’s language. You get to be the “play translator” and help set each kid up for success! By learning their play language, you help them manage conflict, respond with grace, and build great communication within the sibling relationships.
Can Kids Play On Their Own?
There is so much value in playing with kids. Like we have said, it helps us learn their language. What about when parents need to get things done? How do we encourage independent play?
You are the main culture setter for your kids. It’s okay for them to be bored. “Creativity comes out of boredom.” The feeling of boredom can be fostered and help our kids find new parts of themself. We get to help our kids dig deep and discover new things to add to their world.
Instead of responding with a shut down, frustrated comment, give them some ways to go play and generate fun!
Ex. Okay, I know you feel bored but have you tried playing outside? Can you create a fun game to help you beat the heat? Have you done art lately? What is something we can create for our siblings? Have you thought about playing a board game?
Technology vs. Toys
We could do a whole other podcast about this topic! Here are a few main tips:
With little people, the craving is to play! When you put them in front of a screen, you are teaching them this is how you entertain yourself
When they play, you are teaching them this is how you develop yourself
Screens help us chill and unplug, but playing benefits our whole being. It’s worth it to pursue play over screens.
Parents, we encourage you to keep pushing your kids towards play! Your kids will remember the times of play way more than they will remember videos they watched.
It is far more valuable to have real life interactions than to be plugged into a screen. Keep fighting for play time! No condemnation, no pressure, just keep pushing them towards play!
Kids love play and they take it seriously! It’s beautiful to watch kids play! It is also important for adults to play! If you are having a hard time expressing yourself, use play to articulate how you are doing and to help you live a full life!
Our kids want to play with us. Say to your kids, “I think I want to play today!” See how their faces light up! Be a parent who finds a fun way to play every day!
Play is soothing to the soul and the best way to spend your summer days! Play is good for our kids and it is good for us! It is not a waste of time; it is an investment in your family!
For everything there is a season, a time for everything under Heaven (Ecclesiastes 3) ! God is good and His timing is good. Your kids are only little for so long, so go play with them today! Learn the language of play! Watch how the power of play changes your family! Invest in this season and getting to know them on a whole new level through play!
Go invest in your family today and witness the power of play!
If you have a question or a parenting issue that you’d like us to discuss in a future podcast, email us at [email protected].