Do You Encourage Your Children to Play?
Your children need to play. They need to play for
many reasons. Many fathers today remember spending
countless hours playing with siblings or friends
during their childhood. Parents would drop you off
somewhere and your imaginations would take over as
you became soldiers, famous ballplayers, dinosaur
There are many factors that make it more
difficult for children to play in todays
world. There is an emphasis on early academics.
There is more TV watching today by children than
ever before. There is the seductive attraction of
video games. There is also the need for constant
supervision of our kids in urban environments.
These factors and others have helped to create
children who sometimes have forgotten how to have
imaginative play. Theyll have a house full of
toys but say Im bored or that
they have nothing to do. They may look to their
parents to entertain them, rather than creating
their own play.
What is the importance of having your children
engage in creative play when theyre young?
Creative play is believed by many child researchers
to form the foundation of emotional, creative, and
intellectual growth in later years. It should be
considered a normal part of a childs
development. Sadly, many young children dont
have the opportunity to engage in much creative
play because they are presented with
alternatives like video/computer games
or excessive TV watching.
While some of these alternatives claim to
benefit children (train your child on computers
early to get a head start!), there is nothing like
creative play. Other alternatives do not allow your
childrens fantasies to roam freely. The idea
of replacing your childs creative play with
academic work may be based on good intentions, but
will rob your child of a precious opportunity.
How can fathers help to encourage imaginative
play in their children? Many of us are not
knowledgeable about this topic and have left this
work to others. Here are some ideas:
Be willing to be fully involved with your
childs creative play. Yes, that means that
you will be a wild horse running through the desert
(your living room) at times. Too adult for that?
Get over it!
Realize that you dont have to entertain
your kids all of the time. When they start to
expect to be entertained, they will be less likely
to engage in play. Set them free in a room without
TV or video games and let them go to it.
Get them into nature when possible. Let them
play with the soil, the sand, or the water whenever
Consider tapering down the quantity
and types of toys that your children have around
the house. Having huge numbers of toys that leave
little to the imagination does not encourage
creative play. Children often do best with simple
toys, or even household items that are readily
accessible (wooden spoons, pots and pans).
Provide artistic opportunities for your child to
express what he/she is feeling.
Tell stories with rich images to your children
and read to them often. Reading fairy tales is a
wonderful way to provide these images as well.
Consider the amount of TV watching that your
child is engaged in each day. Explore alternatives
to watching TV that would involve more creative
play. You may have to be the catalyst for your
child if there is initial resistance to this.
All around us, the adult world is being thrust
upon our children at earlier and earlier ages. We
are encouraged as parents to help our young kids
get ahead academically or to buy them
the latest fads in toys. As fathers, it is our
responsibility to look beyond all of this to what
our children truly need. Our children need to do
what they do very naturally when they are given the
opportunity. They need to play.
Give your children the chance to prepare
themselves for life as an adult in the best way
possible. Its the only chance that
theyre going to get.
© 2008 Mark
Other Father Issues,
* * *
To this day I can remember my father's
voice, singing over me in the stillness of the
night. - Carl G. Jung
a Masters degree in counseling psychology and has
been a counselor, business consultant, sports
counselor, and a certified life and business coach.
He has worked with individuals, teams, and
businesses to improve their performance for over 20
years. Prior to life and business coaching Mark was
a world-ranked professional tennis player and has
coached other world-ranked athletes. He has helped
hundreds of individuals to implement his coaching
techniques. Mark specializes in coaching men to
balance their lives and to improve the important
relationships in their lives. He is the author of
the popular e-books, 25
Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent
Your Wife in 30 Days or Less (And Improve Yourself
at the Same Time
Mark is also the publisher of the Dads
Dont Fix your Kids ezine for fathers.
To sign up, go to www.markbrandenburg.com
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