Mixing Up the Way Kids Play
by Erik Fisher, Ph.D. View Bio
Leading Emotional Dynamics expert, Erik Fisher, Ph.D., aka Dr. E…, has been changing the lives of children, teens and adults for two decades. As a psychologist, media consultant and author, his unique and creative approach to his work has earned him the respect and accolades of his clientele, his colleagues, and the media. On the radio, he has been providing interviews for more than 15 years on stations across North America and has been interviewed for countless print articles in magazines, from Parents to Cosmopolitan, and newspapers across the country from The Atlanta Constitution to the Chicago Tribune the the L.A. Times. Dr. E… has two published books, The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With and The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict: Understanding Emotions and Power Struggles and proposals for three book concepts. As he says, "Life happens for us, not to us, and understanding that is the key to our own empowerment."
- Switch up the way your child plays! Encourage them to find new ways to play instead of sticking to what they know.
- Increase cognitive skills with a memory game, which is fun for all ages.
- Get a group together and enhance social skills! Have children tell a fact about themselves and see if the rest of the group can remember each person’s fact once everyone has had a turn.
- Play with your kids! Go outside and try something new, like a bike ride or basketball.
Through play, children can discover their passion and talents at an early age. Research has proven that play can help children become more creative, perform better at school, and develop a problem-solving approach to learning. At some time in their lives, our kids will find a way that they love to play. They will play with what they love, morning, noon, and night. Whether it is dolls or action figures, Candy Land or Minecraft, swinging or soccer, kids often find what they like and stick with it.
“…helping our kids find different ways to seek balance, especially in areas where they may not feel confident, can help them to face challenges and find success.”
Well, what if your kids liked peanut butter and jelly, and that’s all they ate, morning, noon, and night? Or what if they only learned one subject in school all day? We know that they would be deficient in other necessary areas, essential for their lifelong success if this all that they did. Play is no different, and helping our kids find different ways to seek balance, especially in areas where they may not feel confident, can help them face challenges and find success.
To take full advantage of the developmental benefits of play, it’s important to make sure kids enjoy a variety of different play types, including physical, imaginative, role-play, construction, games, arts & crafts, and even screen time. These different types of play help develop a variety of skills kids will use all their lives. Each type of play has a valuable role in your child’s development, and each helps them to learn different skills.
Mixing up the way kids play is an easy way to make sure kids are getting the playtime they need. This is especially important today, when kids are playing 8 hours a week less than their parents did 20 to 30 years ago. This lack of playtime is resulting in high stress levels for children, so it’s imperative that parents and caregivers learn to include a mix of play in a child’s daily routine.
Tips for mixing up the way kids play:
- A brain game: Memory games can be fun for many ages.
- Enhancing creativity: Provide an idea for a story and take turns adding to it.
- Communicating clearly: In a group of at least four, play the telephone game, and after it has made the round, help participants learn how communication can be lost from one person to the next to discuss the need for precise communication.
- Being social: In a group of at least six, have each person tell something about themselves that is unique and then state what the three people before them shared to help them see the importance of listening and sharing.
- Be in touch with emotions: With your kids and/or with a larger group, speak about situations that might evoke emotions. Provide a list of five emotions and ask them which emotions someone might feel in that situation. See what their answers are and then discuss.
- Get physical: Get out there and play with your kids. Swing on the swings, kick the soccer ball, play “kick the can”.
Have you played with your kids today?