Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Do You Remember How to Play?

Although I think, overall, I have parented to the best of my ability, I do have some regrets.  One of them is not spending more time playing with my children.  As a mother homeschooling young children, school lessons and housework were always pressing.  While I spent lots of time doing reading and math with my kids, I was often too busy to get very involved in their playing.  I knew that playing was important, but I failed to realize many ways I could have taken a more active role in making play a part of their "educational program."  Had I fully understood the brain maturation, language, social, and motor skills that develop through appropriate types of play; I think spending time playing would have moved higher on my priority list.  (And maybe the noise of a grown man rolling around on the floor with squealing children wouldn't have bothered me so much.)

Yesterday, I was reading that children who have difficulty with attachment and social responsiveness tend to be drawn to electronic games which provide fast paced distraction without demanding language skills or eye contact.  I often encourage parents to limit "screen time" because sitting and pressing buttons does little to develop sensory-motor skills, but this made me realize how much children are missing in language and attachment as well.    

My social worker husband, Mike, tells me there is a whole method of child therapy devoted to teaching parents how to play with their child - things like playing dolls, or Legos, or blocks - something child-directed, interactive and with "face time."  Guess some of us grow up and forget how. 

Mike's mother is someone who never forgot how to play.  We've often wondered when our 18 year old daughter and 16 year old son beg to spend a week at a time with a woman in her 70s who has no video games or Internet.  From the time my children were little, I remember Grandma Betty coloring with them,  playing with toys and playing board games for hours.  Now they work puzzles, play cards, go to movies, and tell her their deepest secrets.  Grandma knows the key to attachment.  I think I will be a very fun grandma - we'll see.

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