The Importance of Play
The sound of a child’s laugh is one of the best things in the world to a parent. Being the cause of that laughter is even better.
When a parent takes the time out of their day to play with their child, whether that means going to a park, playing pretend or relaxing with a movie, it builds a stronger connection between the two by allowing them both to unwind and be present. If you can find ways to laugh together through play, you can create a bond of attachment and establish trust with your child in new (and fun!) ways.
In taking time to be with your child, focusing all of your energy and attention on whatever the two of you are doing together, you allow your child to feel like the center of your universe, to feel loved and cared for.
There are different types of play that you can engage your child in.
Unstructured, free play is the best type of play for younger children.
This is play that occurs naturally, with your child taking the reins to determine what they want to do or create. Allowing your child to just be themselves and exploring their interests, either with you or on their own, helps them to gain confidence and a sense of self.
Examples of unstructured play might be:
- creative play alone or with others, including artistic or musical games
- imaginative games or playing pretend, building forts or dressing up.
- exploring new play spaces, like playing in the backyard, building forts or going to a park.
Structured play is different. It’s more organized and happens at a fixed time or in a set space, and can often require a parent to take part.
Examples of structured play include:
- taking a “mommy and me” class to learn a new skill, like swimming or soccer
- family board or card games
- storytelling groups for toddlers and preschoolers at the local library
- dance, music or drama classes for children of all ages
In playing together, particularly for adopted children, parents can become closer to their children through these shared experiences and create stronger bonds of attachment that can last a lifetime. Creating moments of shared joy strengthens your relationship with your child that can help them to feel loved and accepted.