"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing" - George Bernard SHAW
Do you believe in magic? One of the definitions of magic is ‘a power that seems mysterious’. Magic brings curiosity and entertains people. What if you can bring magic to your home easily just by PLAY? You may feel overwhelmed, anxious, tired, angry at these strange times of a global pandemic and you have every right to feel how you are feeling. Being in a mind state of play will help you and your little one during these emotionally provoking times.
Play is crucial for creating a strong bond between parents and children. It is a tool for the child to rehearse life, cope with intense emotions, build relationships and most importantly to have fun!
Play is not only essential for kids but has many benefits on adults as well. It reduces parents’ and children’s daily stress, strengthens their connection, supports empathy and problem-solving skills.
Research shows that endorphins (hormones that reduce pain and boost pleasure, resulting in a feeling of well-being) are released during play. Which makes play an important source for wellbeing and relaxation. It improves brain functionality (especially memory) and stimulates creativity and imagination, helping adults to remain young and feeling energetic, increase joy and connection.
How can you be more playful with your kids?
Be there in the moment! If your mind wonders to something more serious, bring your attention back to the moment by thinking of a new way to add to the fun
Play for the simple purpose of having fun together, without attachments to outcomes or benefits.
Focus on your child. It doesn't matter who starts the game. Play doesn't have to be structured or pre-planned but make space for play in your daily life. Make an effort at first but soon it will become a part of your daily life without scheduling or planning.
You can play anywhere and anytime. Look for opportunities to get into a playful interaction with your children in different places and settings.
Add some silliness! Who wouldn’t like a pillow fight or a smelly sock fight? What about magical bubbles floating?
Eight playful ideas to have fun with your children:
Dance Together! Choose whatever music you like – it could be a song from your childhood or teenage years, or a popular song. Dance according to the music or do the opposite - if it is a fast-paced song dance slowly and vice versa. You can add feelings to your dance such as an angry dance. Just jump up and down and wiggle around!
Create silly games such as ‘Sock Fight’ (take out your socks with your little one and throw your socks to each other) or ‘I am Clumsy’ (pretend you are very, very, very clumsy and see how your little one will react to your clumsiness with their laughter).
Play with water. Everyone loves water and it reduces your stress levels. Fill out the bathtub and let your little one play in the tub or fill a Tupperware with water. Add some bubbles or food colouring. Let your little one’s imagination walk you through and don’t forget to select a place where you won’t be stressed out for getting the floors wet! You can also play with other sensorial materials such as finger paints, rice, chickpeas, lentils etc.
Recall your inner child - go back to your childhood and select a game you used to love as a child or tell them some funny stories about your childhood.
Do arts and crafts together, be creative and practice process art, which means that you enjoy the process and don’t focus on the outcome. For example, collect some nature treasures from your walks and make a collage, focus on the feeling of the glue or the texture of the treasures that you find. You can also use recycled materials to make different sculptures.
If your child is upset, you can play the ‘Yes-No game’. It goes like this: “I guess you feel like saying no today, let's play a game about that. I will say YES to you and you say NO in the same tone as me" then say YES using different tones. Let your child use NO as much as they like, just playfully!
Let’s pretend: This game will help you if your child doesn’t cooperate to go out in time. You may say ‘Let’s pretend we are horses galloping to the car.’ If your little one doesn’t want to tidy up; ‘Let’s pretend we are cranes picking up the toys. I will get the toys from this side and that part is your side. Let’s see how fast we can tidy up these toys’.
Add some silliness and nonsense to the daily chores. “Hello, I am the famous dresser. I heard that there are some children who don’t want to get dressed. I will dress you; I am a professional, the best dresser in the world. Now let’s put these socks on your hands!”
May your days be filled with love, laughter, and magic of PLAY!
About the author
Suzi Levi Mizrahi is a Developmental Psychologist and founder of Out of the Box Fun. She is amazed every time to observe how play can help a child so easily and naturally. She can create a game from anything and any time. She believes when she makes a child happy she serves her purpose in life. She has a son and a daughter who inspire her for being Playful. They help her for improving her play skills.
Follow Out of the Box Fun:
- Solter, AJ (2013). Attachment Play: How to solve children’s behavior problems with play, laughter, and connection. California: Shining Star Press.
- Markham, L. Playing with Your Child: Games for Connection and Emotional Intelligence. Downloaded from the website www.ahaparenting.com
- Forman, M. The Importance of Play in Adulthood. https://wanderlust.com/journal/the-importance-of-play-in-adulthood (Downloaded February 9, 2021).