Last week I had the opportunity to be an “expert” guest on News 8 Morning Extra on the CW in San Diego talking about the importance of play, especially in a parent child relationship. Since I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, a registered play therapist, a university professor in parent child therapy and play therapy, and own a private practice specializing in childhood play therapy, they felt I was the best candidate for this segment. And I couldn’t have agreed more! Play is my passion and I love sharing my knowledge and experience of play from a professional and personal perspective. (TV Clip link at the bottom of post)
“Play is a child’s language and toys are their words” – Gary Landreth
On the show, I prescribed for parents to take a minimum of 30 minutes of active, undivided playtime each day with their children. This playtime should be uninterrupted from any type of technology including a cell phone, iPad or television. I often suggest that parents sit on the floor with their children and let their children lead the play. Children should feel free to explore their imagination during this time. If a parent has more than one child in the home I often suggest that they play with one child for 30 minutes on one day and then 30 minutes on a different day with the other child. Family playtime can resume on the third day or over the weekend. Every parent or caregiver in the home should have this undivided playtime with each of his or her children.
Play should be incorporated every day for a child. There should be individual play that they can do themselves, play time with parents, and it is also beneficial for children to also play with siblings and or peers as well. During this time, playtime should be interactive, fun, experiential, and also promote imagination and sensory development. Each day both my toddler and my infant have individual quiet time where they play by themselves. I set up puzzles, books, and toys for them to play with on their own terms at their will. I am often in the same room but do not interrupt this time for them. After a few short minutes they forget I’m even in the same room.
Recent research has also shown that young children learn best through meaningful play experiences.
Play is beneficial to improve social relationship skills, communication and language skills, listening skills, sensory development, and to learn how to follow directions and take turns, learn how to follow rules, build imagination, and build a positive attachment with parents and peers.
Play is meant for children of all ages even starting as early for moms with babies in the womb. Moms and dads can both interact with baby before he or she is born by singing, reading books, and even using light touch to “play” with child. And parents need to remember to try and let their inner child come out when playing with their children. The more invested and involved the parent is during the playtime, the more beneficial and fun it will be for the child.
Depending on the child’s age play can look different, but play can incorporate all sorts of activities from the use of toys, arts and crafts, dress up and imaginary play, music, outside play on the playground and or any type of games or exercise, mastery play with organized or board games. Children should get a combination of outdoor and indoor play in their normal routines and schedules.
“It is through active free play outdoors where children start to build many of the foundational life skills they need in order to be successful for years to come.” – Alliance for Childhood
I had such a wonderful experience on set and with everyone I met at NEWS 8 Morning Extra and I can’t wait to go back into the studio as a guest again! Here is the clip of my segment!