Parents playing can help young children learn important skills.

There are many important reasons why parents playing with their young child can help their child's development, especially during the early years. Parents can organize the play so their child is neither bored or overly excited. If their child loses interest in a toy or activity, a parent can offer something new and more interesting to do. If a child is overly excited, a parent can introduce a quieter activity. Not only does this make play more satisfying for children, but it eventually helps them to learn how to pick up the pace of an activity or to slow it down and have better play.


In this article you'll find:

1. Parents Playing Can Help Social Development

2. Parents Playing Can Help Imagination

3. Both Parents are Important for Play


With thanks to Professor Fergus P. Hughes, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.


Parents Playing Can Help Social Development

Play is a very intense, emotional time for a parent and child to share  together. This can help they parent-child relationship because it helps the development of childhood attachment and bonding. Playful parents who smile and laugh a lot and make frequent eye contact with their child are the easiest to attach to. Parents playing also encourage children to pay attention to the social aspects of language because much of this play, particularly with a female parent, involves talking.

Parents Playing Can Help Imagination

Parents playing often show their child different pretend play activities and encourage the child to copy them. This simple imitation increases a child’s confidence in exploring the world. It may also increase a child’s thinking and ability to imagine.

To give an example adults often pick up a toy telephone and speak to an imaginary person on the other end of the line when they are playing with a toddler. Once the adult starts this game they often then offer the phone to the child so can "talk" on the phone too. In the beginning pretend activities like this are begun by the parent but children will learn think of pretend play ideas too.  As he or she does this more easily a sensitive parent will back away and take a back seat to the child's imaginative ideas. The child is therefore being both taught and encouraged to pretend, which is a wonderfully creative activity that helps develop the imagination.

Both Parents are Important for Play

Mothers and fathers are both great playmates for their children. In fact, the similarities between the play of male and female parents far outweigh the differences. Nevertheless, a number of important differences have been observed.

Fathers, for example, engage in more rousing physical play than mothers (such as lifting, bouncing, chasing and wrestling), especially when playing with a boy. Fathers are also more likely than mothers to influence play, making suggestions and encouraging children towards or away from certain activities.

Mothers are more likely to discover what their child wants to do and then follow. While fathers rely more on the sense of touch in play, mothers use language more and like teach their children while they play with them.

Children's play has many benefits and parents playing with their child in a sensitive and caring way is very important. Young children don't need expensive toys or educational programs. They need parents who appreciate children and childhood enough to realize that play is essential to healthy child development. Play is what children do. So most importantly, children need parents who are willing, at least occasionally, to do more than just respect children's play, but to share in the play experience themselves.