How to play with your child


“I don’t know how to really play with my child,” said one mom at a party I just hosted, while another parent said basically the same thing at a Thai restaurant tonight over dinner.

I simply said, it’s the power of knowing how to yield to your child’s needs. The mother at the Thai restaurant seemed a bit puzzled and longed to know more. I explained to the mother that getting down to your child’s level, and just being present is the start of being able to really play. Keeping in mind that your child will most likely have a different agenda than yours.

chris trumpet 01 300x200 How to play with your child

Chris playing trumpet

If your child wants to roll her ball to knock down the Legos that you just built with her, allow it, and go/yield to his or her desire. Maybe even ask your child, “Would you like to play with the puzzle or the spoons with Mama?”

Sit down close to him or her, making eye contact and engaging with your child. While playing, you can ask lots of questions, like for example, “Can I be Nick from school, and pretend that we are at a tea party together?”

I could say this confidently to the mother at the Thai restaurant after just finishing the book “The Ready Method in Action” written by Cynthia A. Frosch, Ph.D. & Margaret T. Owen, Ph.D.

The book highlights five key aspects of parenting that contribute to the social, emotional, and intellectual development of young children. The ready method teaches parents how to become aware of their own interactions with their child, by following these five basic principles:

  • Read your child’s cues and respond appropriately
  • Engage your child effectively while being physically supportive and emotionally expressive
  • Acknowledge your child’s perspective and adjust your own behavior to meet your child’s needs
  • Develop your child’s social, intellectual, emotional language and perceptual skills
  • Yield to your child’s interests and agenda
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