Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How can I make playing with my child less boring?

Parents often tell me that they just don’t know how to play with their kids or that it seems boring.  Most of the time parents comment that there is not enough time in the day.  Understanding how collaborative play benefits you and your children might motivate you to set aside the time and engage, but how can it be made interesting?

The first thing to do is to think about your childhood.  What were your favorite things to play?  Chances are you would still get a kick out of playing with them.  I used to love to build with Lincoln Logs and when given the chance could spend hours putting together a entire village.  Pull out some old pictures of you from childhood or talk to your parents if you can’t remember. 

The smallest thing can spark the imagination of a child.  Play with children is not “entertaining” them.  Most of the time you don’t have to do much beyond getting on the floor.  Children come up with the wildest ideas, just take the idea and run with it. 

Let go of all the “grownup” things in life. Look at the world through the eyes of your child during your play time.   Be silly and have fun.   

Here are a few specific ideas.  I hope they spark your inner-child.  And feel free to comment at the end with your own ideas. 
  • Play School – their turn to be teacher
  • Run around like monkeys or another animal
  • Dance to some music
  • Play a sport your child likes
  • Write a story together or draw a several pictures that make a story
  • Blind Guess- Put a bunch of random objects in a dark colored pillowcase.  Ask them to put their hand it and without looking guess what it is.  Let them do it for you. 
  • I spy
  • 20 questions, think of a cartoon character
  • Do a Lego’s set with them
  • Play Barbie’s and dolls
  • Dress up.  Let them dress up in your clothes
  • Be super heroes.
  • Get out all the matchbox cars and put together a track with card board. 
  • Video or computer games (if you have them) believe it or not are a great way to bond.  Most kids have a favorite and would love it if you knew a little bit about it.  And they will love beating you at the game even more.
  • There are tons of new ways to do old board games.  Or get out your old board games. 
  • Color or paint. Sometimes the simplest thing is the best. 
  • Build a fort in your living room or under your dining room table. 
  • Have a tea party.
  • Tickle monster, wrestle and chase are great impromptu games to play.  Just make sure you are not always the one chasing or tickling.  Give them some power in it too. 
  • Take a walk together and collect things.  You could keep a box of the things you collect or you could make a picture from the collection. 
  • Make music with stuff from around the house: pots, pans, and plastic containers, whatever.  Create a parade for when dad (mom) comes home. 
  • Pretend you are an animal and let them be the owner
  • Line up chairs and make a train.


Deborah McNelis said...

Great post! You have created a wonderful list here!!

It is always terrific to see the increase in information promoting play!!... and you are adding to it in a valuable way.

THANKS for ALL you are doing for the benefit of children and families!!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I landed on this post because it was the closest fit to my problem. I'm not bored playing with my daughter (4)- I WANT to do it. The problem is, I just don't feel like I'm very GOOD at it. I'm currently having a bit of a self pitying cry, because I've just come from trying to play with her in her room, and gave up in despair, leaving my husband to it. The problem, specifically is that I just seem to be no good at unstructured play, which is what being 4 is all about. So while my husband seems to have no problem just, 'making games up' as such. ( playing pretend with soft toys, etc, and just generally going with the flow as such), I really struggle with that sort of play. My dauggter rapidlygets bored or frustrated that I'm 'doing it wrong', but will happily play in this way with my husband for hours. It leaves me feeling really insecure that I'm not, 'connecting' well with my daughter, and that she's missing out. I can hear them now in the lounge playing coffee shop with her dolls. I feel really left out, and like a bad mum. I try to think back to when I was a child, and I can never remember enjoying 'unstructured' 'imaginary' play. Maybe I was never good at it? I remember finding playing dolls boring and role playing games, like pretending to be a balkerina or a fire fighter etc, always seemed contrived, even from as early as age 5 and 6. I'm just terrible at playing pretend and going with the flilow! Whatcan I do? I don't want my daughter to miss out, or think I don't want to play with her. :(

Anonymous said...

Please excuse typos!

Marcia Hall said...

Dear Anonymous,
First of all, you are being a great parent no matter how you feel about this situation. Your desire to connect with your daughter is a sign that your connection with her is strong. 4 year old girls can be a little "specific" about how they want to play. I have 2 suggestions.

First - keep trying! Your efforts will pay off even if you never have the hours of unstructured play with her that her dad can enjoy, the connection will be stronger for your effort.

Second - Instead of attempting to figure out how to play unstructured with your daughter, ask her to help you. She obviously knows "how" she wants to play and giving her the control in her playtime with you can help her in many ways. Letting her be your guide will help her self-worth which will empower her to be a leader as she grows.

When playing ask her "Will show me how you would like me to play with you?" Happy playing.

al3ab66 said...

awesome post , this a fantastic list ..
its always so good to see information in such always .. and u r giving your own test .
thank you so much for posting and sharing ill definitely try them .

hguf said...

thanks for sharing.