Parenting, and the importance of “Child Directed Play”.

17 May, 2016 Categories: Blog

We had the pleasure of having Peter Loft fly over from New York to train team members as Webster Stratton Group Leaders in November 2015. We are now proud to be running our first Webster Stratton Training.

Here is a wonderful blog post from Peter Loft about parenting, and the importance of “Child Directed Play”.

Peter Loft’s Blog Post:

In a very competitive world it can feel overwhelming to figure out given the limited amount of time for parents to spend with their kids.  Believe it or not, for young children, ages 12 months to 10 years old, playing with your child in what we call “child-directed play” is one of the best investments of your time you can make.  while play seems frivolous and a waste of time to parents, it has been proven to improve school test scores, creativity, emotional regulation and friendship skills.

How does it do this?  Play with a caring adult doing an activity the child chooses, and the parent is comfortable with, encompasses all the areas of a child’s brain that is still quite immature and malleable.  For example, a young child playing with blocks, is using spacial reasoning, problem solving, concentration, and quantitative math skills in a way that is far more sophisticated and involved that a math game on an iPad.

Playing with dolls or stuffed animals with a parent provides the perfect opportunity for a parent to model desired social skills.  for example instead of telling your child, “you need to share more.”  during the play, the stuffed animal mom or dad might be using can model sharing by offering to your child’s stuffed animal or doll, “i am going to share with you my toy truck, because sharing with my friend makes me feel good.”  this simple yet,  under-appreciated technique of modeling for your child during play a social skill you want them to improve on, is proven by research to be one of the most effective ways to teach that particular social skill, in this case sharing.  Even though it is play, and make believe practicing sharing during play has been proven to lead to more sharing with friends and siblings during real life interactions.

Creative play, whether it is art activities or allowing your child to make up wild and imaginary stories even if they can’t possibly be true in real life promotes creative problem solving skills in their mind, and we know children who are strong in creativity tend to do better in school.  Because really what is school all about, other than learning how to creatively take on challenges of an ever changing world.

Finally, for children who have difficulty coping with frustration, disappointment, and easily lose their tempers, or “become disregulated”, parents during play modeling labeling their own feelings for their children, and sharing how they took deep breaths to calm down when they were becoming angry due to all the traffic, for example will be helping their own children to get better at understanding how to put words to feelings and things one can do to express some of the negative feelings in a more appropriate way.

all the above can seem overwhelming, but if you pick one area, to spend 5-10 minutes every other day, deliberately trying to focus on during your quality time with your child, i can almost guarantee you will see some improvement.  children in Dubai, like every where are hungry for the positive productive quality time with the most important people in their lives, Mom and Dad.

Relax, have fun, and above all else, enjoy these precious moments because as we all know to well, a parent blinks your eyes, and PRESTO CHANGE O!  your child is a grown up.

Peter Loft, LICSW

Incredible Years Programs

Seattle WA USA