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We know from research that CONNECTION with your children is a mandatory prerequisite for their cooperation. Not only that, but it brings fulfillment and happiness as you and your child get a shot of Joy Juice hormones that make you feel good. And who doesn’t want more of that? It’s so crucial to the optimal development of a child that’s part of the reason it’s one of our five studio values.
One of the key components for building connection with your children is playfulness. We have learned from Conscious Discipline that the elements needed for true connection are eye contact, touch, playfulness, and presence. We strive to utilize these elements in every Kindermusik class, and most especially during our I Love You Rituals.
Let’s focus on playfulness for a moment. The following suggestions come from Sarah Ockwell-Smith, childcare and parenting author and expert.
Hands up if you struggle to be a playful parent? For some, being playful comes naturally, for others it can feel a little awkward and stilted. If you’re in the latter category, give these tips a try:
1. View play as a ‘must have’, not ‘nice to have’. We are so busy with adult life, that playing with our children often sinks to the bottom of our to-do lists. Viewing play as important, not as time wasted that could be better spent elsewhere, is the way forward. 15 minutes playing with your child is infinitely more valuable than 15 minutes sending emails, or vacuuming the carpet.
2. Play at your child’s level, not your own. What does this mean? It means not inventing mature games or activities that you think your child would like, or that you believe to be age appropriate or good developmentally. Watch and observe how your child plays and join in. It doesn’t have to make sense to you and it doesn’t have to have an obvious teaching moment.
3. Reconnect with your inner child.
As we grow we learn to be more self-conscious, we lose the value of play and we lose the skills to be great at it. Sometimes we need to go deep inside and remember how thrilling it is to be silly, how fun it is to lose ourselves in our imaginations. Dig deep and remember what you enjoyed at their age – did you like skipping/jump ropes, jumping in muddy puddles, Painting with your fingers? You’re not too old for those things now!
4. Make everyday chores more playful.
Invent a bedtime song, a tidying up dance, or a family race to get shoes on when it’s time to go out. Play can be incorporated into every aspect of family life. It doesn’t have to be a specific play time to make something more fun.
5. Get into role playing and drama.
Remember how fun it was to play schools, shops, or mums and dads as a child? Role playing/acting out different characters is such a lovely way to play with children, it’s also a great way to encourage them to do things they don’t usually want to do (e.g: pretending to be a dinosaur hunter when brushing teeth, or a grooming chimpanzee when brushing hair).
Do you have any other tips?