In today’s day in age, I see so many parents occupy their children by giving them tablets, phones, or setting them in front of the television. Although some screen time is okay, there are so many benefits of parents mindfully engaging in play. Today’s post will focus on ways to mindfully play with your children.
1. Get Rid of the Distractions
In order to be completely present and mindful when playing with your child, it is vital that you get rid of the distractions. Turn off the TV, turn off your phone, get rid of all distractions and focus on interacting with your child. Your child will love the individual attention and I’m sure you will too!
2. Get Down on Their Level
There is naturally a power differential between parents and children. The power differential increases when adults are standing next to children because the child is forced to look up. If you are sitting in a chair and your child is playing on the floor, there is still that difference in power. The best way of interacting with a child is playing on the same level they are. If they are sitting on the floor, you sit on the floor. If your child is playing at a table, sit right next to them at a table. This body language will communicate to your child that they are important and are your primary focus.
3. Track Your Child’s Behaviors
Describing what your child is doing in play verbally communicates to them that you are paying attention, present in the moment, and completely focused on them. It shows that you are interested in your child and what they would like to do. Tracking your child’s behaviors additionally teaches them concepts and models good speech and vocabulary. This also helps children work on attention and organizes the child’s thoughts about the activity. Some examples of this include “you’re building a tower,” “you drew a circle with that blue marker,” and “you put the man inside the fire truck.”
4. Make Reflections
Reflecting, or paraphrasing what your child is saying, communicates many things to your child. It communicates that you are interested in what they are doing and are accepting and understanding of their actions. Some other great things about reflections are that they increase verbal communication between parent and child and improve children’s speech. Below are some examples of reflections that can be made in play.
Child: I drew a tree!
Parent: You are excited that you drew a tree.
Child: I like to play with the blocks.
Parent: You are happy when you are playing with the blocks.
Child: The dog doesn’t want to go outside because of the dark.
Parent: The dog is scared to go outside.
5. Provide Praise
Praise is when you tell the child specifically what you like about what they are doing or saying. Praise causes children’s good behavior to increase, exhibits that you approve of their behavior, increases a child’s self-esteem, and overall makes you and your child feel good. Some examples of praise include “good job with that tower!,” “your drawing is beautiful,” and “I like how you are putting the cars away.”
Here’s a quick list of all of the ways that you can mindfully play with your children or encourage your families to engage in mindful play.