Top Tips for Child-led Play

A key factor in building resilience in children is helping them to develop and maintain positive relationships. You may support friendships at school and actively encourage wider relationships with extended family and community, but the most powerful relationship your child has is with you, their parent and guardian.

Spending time with your child one to one, even for just twenty minutes a day, will work towards a relationship that will help your child build resilience in their childhood and beyond. We consider child-led play as one of the strongest tools in the parenting tool-kit, when it comes to achieving a healthy happy relationship.

Here are our Top Tips:

Find the time that’s right for you and your child

Running a home, working, and organising a family is tough on time, it’s also busy and stressful, so make sure the washing is on, the dinner is cooking, or there is no risk of the doorbell. Take time when you know you will have no distractions. Also make sure it fits in with your child’s routine, for example after homework but before tea, as a great little break in their day.

No technology

Yes that goes for you too. Put the smartphone in another room so you can’t see the alluring glow of a message, or email from work. Turn off the television, and say no to screen time. You may get grumbles, but your attention will be welcome, especially when they learn they get to choose the game!

Do not be tempted to take over

This is playtime led by your child, and as tempting as it is to push for Lego spaceship making again, it’s their time to invite you into their world, and they get to feel like the boss! You can put a boundary on time to be spent, but be clear this is their time and ask your child “what would you like to do?”

Allow time for mess

When you spend your days keeping the house habitable it’s no wonder the idea of messy play is off putting. However the clear up operation can always be done quicker than you think. Have cheap baby-wipes to hand for easy clean up, make space under the sink for paint accessories to pop them away quickly, and explain certain rooms to be out of bounds during messy play.

And finally, enjoy yourself

Don’t beat yourself up for finding playtime sometimes a little trying, especially if you have a lot on your mind. You’re not the only one! However when you play with your child they are learning they are important, and that they are interesting, so get enthusiastic and join in. Involve yourself in the characters from the toy box, paint a crazy picture, or put on the cape during dressing up. Enjoy this time knowing you are strengthening the foundations of your child’s mental and emotional health, as well as building a relationship that will serve them, and you, in times of stress or trauma.

To learn more about our ‘Happy Child, Happy Parent’ series click here.