Playing for Keeps!


It's Wednesday and oh what a beautiful day it is! I am writing today because I have been out "playing" myself!

I have been thinking a lot about play and how it can be such a positive way to send messages to our children. When we play with our kids it shows them that we value them and want to spend time with them. It shows them we like them and enjoy them. It shows them they are important and someone we choose to be with. It shows them we like what is important to them. It shows them that we pick spending time, doing something joyful with them, instead of something else (like cleaning or paperwork, or phone calls...)! It sends a message that they are valued.

I had the opportunity this Monday to learn something new. At a professional meeting I was at, we were discussing learning and how children learn best. One of the most interesting points presented, was that children learn to value what they see valued. AH HA (I thought)! When we play with our children, take the time to do that, we are demonstrating powerfully, I would argue, that we value them!

I have the opportunity to watch lots of young parents through my job. Just last week, one young father came in with his son, this father is the primary caretaker for their family. He brought his son into the classroom and they went to look at all that was planned for the day. He took the time to see what Russell would be doing that day. It so happened that we had the marble works out, which is a game where kids build the ramps and structure and then race the marbles down. Well, this game is one of Russell's favorite things to do! He and his Dad sat down on the rug and began to put the structure together. Russell was literally gleeful, jumping and screeching (in the best of ways) and laughing with his Dad as they raced their marbles down the track. This fabulous father sat for a few minutes laughing and enjoying his son. He did not try to rush out the door and get onto his day.. he sat and played and sent a wonderful message to his son. He sent the message that he valued him through the time they took just to play.

I see all sorts of parents and styles of parenting. Each type of person and parent is different, but play is universal! Everyone can play! All kids love to play. Just watch them. Kids make up games out of almost anything. Yesterday I watched a group of children pick up pieces of old cement and play with it. They made a pretend campfire and invited me to roast marshmallows with them..they were fabulous I must say! The best marshmallows I ever had! :)

My point it this: Play is the way children learn. When we play with them, we demonstrate that what is important to them is important to us. We demonstrate value. Children learn to value what they see valued. Do you think you help them learn to value themselves if you play with them?? I say a resounding "YES"! By taking the time to play and enjoy and laugh with your children, you show them they are valued . When you show them they are valued they learn to value themselves.
How much better does it get than that? Isn't that the point of parenting? To raise and create a person who is strong and capable and able all on his own? Someone who values himself. Someone who knows that he has worth. Someone who feels valued. Someone who knows they matter. By doing that, we help create adults who can do anything, because they inherently know they are valuable. We helped them realize that because we took the time to value them. We took the time out of our busy day, because everyone is busy, just to play!

When you play with your kids you build a relationship with them. A relationship that is built on value and respect and trust, because you took time to do what your kids liked and what they needed. All children learn best through play...actually maybe all people do too!

So go ahead..Play! When you do, you send the message that your children are valued and valuable. A message that sets up a great foundation for a wonderful life long relationship with your children. A message of value, respect, trust and love.

As a matter of fact, I was doing just that this past weekend. Playing with my adult children and oh what fun we had!!

Until next time,