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“Think of playtime like an innovation lab where tomorrow’s civilization is being actively designed.”
– Jordan Shapiro

To those parents, grandparents and care-givers who love children deeply and only want the best for them. To those who dream of raising a whole and happy child. To those who hope for children who are fully expressed in themselves, free to be bold and just a little bit wild. To those who want their children to learn all they can, to swim through the vast ocean of knowledge that awaits them, calling to them to identify their passions.

This is a call to action.

Children must be encouraged to play.

 This is the simple secret to raising a whole and happy child.

Play is a method of finding oneself, a process of exploration and discovery that extends to all subject matter and all experiences. Supporting play is a loving action – being playful and silly together solidifies your parent-child bond, allowing you to feel even closer to each other. Keeping the focus on play is a giant infusion of joy for the whole family.

Kids today are losing play in many ways – shorter recess, too many scheduled activities, not enough play dates, and way too much screen time. It is up to parents to clear away some physical space, as well as time in the daily schedule, for plenty of unstructured play. Kids of all ages need to play every day – tweens and teenagers need daily physical play just as much as young children do, and they also need to spend lots of time doing non-technological activities.

Positive, playful parenting is all about prioritizing educationally and developmentally vital play and fostering a more positive parent-child relationship. The result is a deeper connection with your child. It involves taking the time and energy to effectively impart family values and help your children learn lessons in a kind and respectful manner.

This philosophy is based on the core belief that play is the highest form of education for children. Positive, playful parents support the development of play by becoming informed on what will most benefit their children and employing playful strategies to enrich and expand play. It is important to have a well organized and developmentally appropriate play space, as well as inspiring props and toys.

Make it playful:

  • Play together regularly as a family and also one-on-one.
  • Encourage your children’s friendships by inviting kids to play in your home frequently, and enrich your own by having your friends bring their kids over to play with yours.
  • Read together and watch wonderful movies, talking about the delightful ways the stories can inspire play. Use these stories to expose your kids to art, music, and ideas from other cultures.
  • Look ahead at your children’s upcoming developmental milestones, and consider positive and playful ways to approach them so children can learn about what is to come and prepare for it. Smooth these transitions and create wonderful memories by addressing things head-on, talking about it, and teaching your children to look for the good in every situation.

Look for ways to celebrate the small things as well as the big. It can be as simple as asking your child at bedtime what he felt good about that day, or it can be as grand as planning an annual holiday just to celebrate how much you love being a family. Find ways to make it playful for all involved, and it will always be memorable.

Positive, playful parents encourage positive behaviors and habits during social play and equip children with the tools they need to be responsible, kind and considerate adults.

Have any positive or playful family stories to tell? We want to hear from you in the comments section below!

Image credit: Natalie Vires Photography