Connecting With Your Child Through Play

Play can be the long-sought bridge back to that deep emotional bond between parent and child.  Play, with all its exuberance and delighted togetherness, can ease the stress of parenting. Playful parenting is a way to enter a child’s world, on the child’s terms, in order to foster closeness, confidence, and connection.
— Lawrence Cohen

Children need to play. It’s their work and way of learning skills, making sense out of their world, and processing their emotions. Children release complicated emotions through play. Laughter specifically reduces stress hormones and increases bonding hormones. Laughter can quickly restore an affectionate connection between adult and child. Play helps parents and kids feel closer, helps kids learn lessons better, and increases cooperation.

Connecting with your child through play can be as little as 2 minutes or as long as 10-20 minutes. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

1.     Play hide and seek

2.     Hold your child in your arms and dance

3.     Play a tunnel activity (similar to London Bridge)

4.     Give a pillow ride (sit on a big floor pillow as you drag him/her around the room, maintaining eye contact)

5.     Play catch! Roll a ball back and forth, bat a balloon back and forth

6.     M&M hockey (use bendy straws and blow M&Ms across the table, then the opponent feeds the person who scores a piece of candy)

7.     Play toys (follow your child’s lead, refrain from asking questions, use undivided attention)