Strictly come Playing

Playing with your child is not an option or a luxury; it is a must.  Play helps the child to relax and enjoy the flow of endorphins that make him feel good about himself and his world.  It helps him to let go of all the stressors in his life.  It teaches him about teamwork, taking turns and trust. Apart from that it is a wonderful way for family members to bond.  It helps everyone to feel that they belong.

Children love predictability.  Decide on an appropriate time for playing, preferably daily, and stick to it, come what may.  Create a family “Haka” (compare the All Blacks), a tune (like with soapies) or a song to announce play time.  Switch off all cellular phones, the radio, television, play station, DVD player and start the game.  Stay away from any electronic games.  Play works best if there are no toys around!

You may well ask:  what shall we play?  Think of the fun you had as a child and try different games until you can determine what works for your family.  Keep it simple.  It should create fun, not war!  On rainy days you may make some play dough and create a zoo of animals or a garage where one can have your car washed and serviced!  For sunny days it is best to be outside where everyone can do with a little bit of fresh air.  Invest in different ball games, even for girls.  Ball games help with the most important hand eye coordination skills.  Create a sandpit and build roads, bridges, castles, towns.  Over weekends the family can meet on the beach and play around in the rock pools or build sand castles.

Play should always be finished with a calm down game – something that indicates that play time is now coming to an end.  Everyone should help clean up.  Use Barney’s song to have fun while cleaning up. Make the most of family time.  Families that play together, stay together.


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