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Playing is one of the most important activities in a child's life. Not only does it bring them fun and entertainment, it also benefits their educational development . Physical, knowledge, social and emotional skills are some skills they acquire. But do parents know how to play with their children and what does it imply?
In general, society tends to belittle the time they spend playing parents with their offspring. "The ingrained conviction that the game is trivial and useless is reflected in comments such as: 'Leave it, you are just playing' or 'Stop playing' or 'Why send children to daycare, if all they do is play, "says Pilar Gamazo Garrán, a specialist in adult, child and adolescent psychiatry at the Institute of Neurosciences Applied to Education (INAE) and a member of Top Doctors.
It is also frequent "the tendency of parents to try to teach them a variety of skills instead of just playing . In a society that greatly emphasizes achievements in school, economic success and the importance of work, it is difficult to abandon idea that the game is just wasting time, "adds the specialist.
Although "some parents realize the benefits of the game, they do not perceive the need to get personally involved," says Gamazo, who blames the lack of parental involvement on the lack of knowledge on how to do it, lack of time or why that moment is not sought. . Even when there is a lot of free time, says the expert, parents find it difficult to manage it: "the key is to organize and plan ahead, although boredom also implies a necessary learning for children."
Some of the utilities involved in the game with the little ones are specified in "a relationship of affection between family members, creating positive habits and feelings that can be used in times of conflict. It also helps to solve problems, to experiment with new ideas and explore your imagination, "says the psychiatrist.
At the same time, it drives the vocabulary of children who learn to communicate their thoughts, their feelings and their needs. "They also learn to interact socially , teaching them to wait and / or respect shifts and how to respond in a sensitive way to the feelings of others," he continues.
It is essential, Gamazo explains, that parents consider their children's play as something beneficial and try to find time to participate. Valuing and praising ideas, thoughts or behaviors that reinforce their self-esteem and enhance their abilities and promote feelings of achievement and independence are aspects that parents should take care of during the game.
"At the same time they are given a legitimate opportunity of authority, control and power . In fact, the little ones in general are given few opportunities to have this kind of interactions with adults. Within the game is where the child gets legitimate control, and where at the same time he creates his own rules.It is an occasion to grow and develop in almost any area.If you cooperate with the rules they invented at that time, then you will be modeling that acceptance This will make them more likely to follow rules that you propose in the future. "
LET'S DO IT
To facilitate the task, Dr. Gamazo offers some tips for you to play with your children adapting to their rhythm and level.
1.- Follow the initiative and rhythm of the child. Don't demand too much and give it the time you need. Some parents structure their children's play with instructions and orders on how to do something. Possibly they believe that this way the game has some value. Unfortunately, the result is a series of orders and corrections that only make the experience, for adults and children, unpleasant. The first step in playing with children is to follow the direction, ideas and imagination of the child. It is not about teaching them anything, it is better to imitate their actions and do what they ask.
It is also frequent that they tend to repeat the same activity over and over again , especially the smallest ones. How many times does a child ask to be read the same story? Repetition bores parents who may be tempted to vary the pace by introducing a new idea. The problem is that children need to rehearse and practice an activity to feel they have mastered it, and confident in their abilities. If they start a new activity, they may feel unable to do so , or frustrated or give up when playing with their parents, because they feel they will not be able to meet their parents' expectations.
Also make sure that the step you take in the game has been based on the child's rhythm . Do not press it simply because you are bored with the activity. Wait until he decides to do something different. Remember that children take a much slower pace than adults when they change their minds.
2.- Do not compete with him or criticize him. However, children have to experience the experience of losing and thus learn to manage it from an early age. Tolerance to frustration is an emotion that you have to work from childhood, you do not always win and teach them this through play will benefit their development, flexibility and tolerance to frustration.
3.- Encourage him so that he can comment on his ideas and encourage his creativity . It is easy to fall into the trap of correcting children when they are playing. How many times we say: "That does not go there" or "That is not the best way to do it". These types of criticisms or corrections in the long run make them doubt their ideas, stop exploring and playing with toys. Parental attention is focused on what they do wrong and not on what is right. This emphasis tells them that the goal of the game is perfection. Creating and experimenting is the most important thing, not the final product. The game does not have to make sense.
In addition, depending on the age, it is likely that he will have to change the game from time to time because he loses attention in the one that was already started. Encourage him and motivate him to develop his imagination, he may get less tired. We can help you by choosing an activity that seems interesting, starting to play us as if it were an exciting experience and as soon as a little time passes the child will want to participate. When this happens we must let him take the initiative and we will remain as observers.
4.- Be an attentive audience . Sometimes parents ask children questions when they are playing. If so, be sure to limit the number of them, and add information to what your children respond to to teach them more. You can show interest in the game by supporting them through comments describing what they are doing and at the same time you will be helping language development.
5.- Do not try to help him too much , but try to help him solve his own problems. And if you have several children and each one wants a different game, let them solve it themselves. That way they will be happier and better accept the result. In that situation you can tell them, "we have a problem, you both want to play together but you want Jaime cars and you Iñigo prefer the constructions, how can we solve it?". They themselves will give options and you can help them choose the most appropriate one.
On the other hand, if you want to play separately it is important that you distribute your attention between the two with comments at some point on how they play or praise. You can reinforce an infinity of skills: concentration, persistence, efforts to solve problems, inventiveness, expression of their feelings, cooperation, motivation and self-confidence.
6.- The games must be adapted to the moment of development in which the children and other aspects such as their personality, their abilities and of course it is essential to take into account their preferences and that within the variety of games available they are the ones Let them choose what to play. When your child shows interest in an activity, support him and allow him time to explore and experiment.
When you play with your child, look at the signs he gives you. If you are not interested in the game, do something new that you want to do. There are times when parents want to play games or with toys that are too advanced for the child's level of development. For example, a father might think that his three-year-old daughter is ready to put together a puzzle. As he teaches her, she resists. Maybe you are not ready for that activity.
7.- Pay attention when you play in silence. Most parents take the opportunity to take care of their own things when they play in silence. By doing this, they do not let their children know what they appreciate that they can play alone and in silence. They only receive attention when they are making noise or something inappropriate. If your child does not receive positive attention when he does something right, then he will do something to get negative attention, such as misbehaving.
But above all there is one fundamental thing you should do: laugh and have fun with your children.
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