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The key to helping your child thrive –

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Can different kinds of play be a means of developing important lifelong skills for young children? Science has discovered a positive relationship between impulse control and improved focus, increased emotional intelligence, and even improved friendships. Anyone of any gender, parent or not, can participate in this kind of play with their children in their daily lives.

As adults, we intellectually know play is important, but as we grow it’s all too easy to relegate it to another data point rather than behavior. After all, play is serious business. Play is how children learn about the world around them and about themselves. It’s how they communicate and interact with the people around them.

As children grow up, there is also a deep and often underestimated value in having playful adults by their side.research by Ross Park and Michael Lamb It also reveals some surprising things about play styles, and sometimes underestimated styles of interaction with children, which are essential for children to develop emotional regulation and impulse control. could be.

Father playfully throwing his son in the air on the beach

different approaches to play

Research has identified two common styles that adults use when playing with children. One is a gentle type of play that focuses on visual, learning and verbal communication. This gentler style of play also tends to involve encouraging children to stick with things that don’t show immediate interest. Think about arts and crafts, story time together, learning to bake together, or doing giant puzzles together on the floor.

The other is a more rambunctious and energetic style of play that tends to change directions frequently. This is a type of play that focuses on physical play and changes as soon as the child loses interest. It could be a “who can hula-hoop the longest” competition, a game of tag in the yard, or carrying it upside down around the house while the kids laugh about it.

Although this research was conducted in a gender-relevant manner and each style could be stereotyped as “mom’s play” or “dad’s play”, the reality is that, regardless of gender, Whether you are a parent or not, you can participate in either type of play (or both!) with your children in your life.

Mother and son playing dinosaur

Effects of the real world on children

More energetic types of play are sometimes viewed as less educational, but research disagrees with this. Instead, children learn to control their emotions more effectively as they suddenly become bored after intensely stimulating play and then have to switch gears again. You will also learn to control your patience and impulses. Studies show that this has a number of great outcomes for children. In other words, “less educational” types of play can actually be just as educational and essential.

Our upcoming parenting newsletter will give you access to a wealth of knowledge and science, solutions to common and uncommon parenting problems, practical tips, and inspiring stories. Because every parenting journey needs a roadmap.

Silhouette of a happy family with two children hiking at sunset

How to incorporate energetic play into your day

As a parent, or as an adult involved in your child’s life, there are some simple ways to bring energetic play into your child’s life. You don’t have to make big projects or go to the park. Instead, take just a few minutes to:

  • Jump over the crack in the sidewalk.
  • If physically possible, help carry your child around and pretend to be flying.
  • Take a 2 minute dance break between tasks.
  • Stand on the floor with your child and imitate his every move. It makes them giggle and inspires them to explore movement in new ways.

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We will be publishing a parenting newsletter soon. It contains a wealth of knowledge and science, solutions to common and uncommon parenting problems, practical tips, and inspiring stories. Because every parenting journey needs a roadmap.

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