There are so many aspects to parenting that sometimes we forget the simplest thing: enjoying our kiddos!
Taking a few minutes to half an hour to simply play with your kids every day or two can work wonders on their behavior. They get positive attention, have fun with the most important people in their lives, and are relaxed for hours after that.
Not only do I know this from my own personal experiences with my kids; I also know this from research I’ve done to explore more concrete information related to kids and parents playing together.
“Play is a powerful way to build and maintain a deep emotional bond between parent and child.” – Dr. Suesser
This is absolutely true, in my opinion. Playing and doing activities together with your kids makes them feel like they’re more connected with you, as well as making them more comfortable in the relationship they have with you, their parent.
Anything from sitting down to paint with them to baking cookies together can be a fun experience. Taking a little time to do something together during the day – from board games to tickle time – can make kids stop begging for negative attention as well. They tend to be more content when they’ve had a little playtime with their parents, making the rest of the day less stressful.
“Play reduces destructive behavior in children, and also reduces TV and video-game addiction.” – Dr. Suesser
Playing with your kids can also mean less stress for you. Parenting is hard – between work, responsibilities, chores, and whatever else may be in your life such as homework for college-going parents, the levels of stress during the week can be astounding for some people.
Though there are other ways of handling stress, you can think of playing with your kids as taking care of several things at once: lowering your stress, lowering their stress, and strengthening your bond.
To take it one step further, especially in the spring and summer months, it’s actually good for kids to play in the dirt – which many of them do with great enthusiasm.
“In our germaphobic culture where we have entire aisles of cleaning products at the grocery store, some children are being raised in “overhygienic” conditions. Without enough exposure to different bacteria and microbes, it is thought that the immune system doesn’t learn to recognize its own cells, and this could be a reason for higher rates of asthma, eczema, and other diseases.” – Katie Fox, Simple Mom
There are actually many more benefits to playing in the dirt – for adults and children – including naturally-occurring bacteria that help raise serotonin levels. Dirt can actually make people happier!
So, the next time you need to apply for scholarships, do some reading, or get some cleaning done uninterrupted, try preceding it with some play time with your kids. It could mean the difference between a productive couple of hours or distracted ones.