Not sure how to play?
This is strange – it seems that a fifth of parents don’t ever play with their kids (and find it boring if they ever do)! Post by Nicola Baird.
It’s a very sad statistic produced by super nanny Prof Tanya Byron in her new report for the Government: The State of Play: back to basics, (Guardian article link here) which saw 2,000 parents and 2,000 children aged between 5 to 15 interviewed. Half of the children wanted to do more things with their parents. I bet they did.
If you are struggling with things to do to get a game going, here’s some ideas I’ve used when I’m outside with my children this summer – so walks turn into adventures. Even in a park we chase to trees, stalk dogs and squirrels, and try out silly walks on the way to a bench.
With my friends’ children I notice my girls are always looking for dens, or jumping objects or using their imagination. So in a way you could say that I don’t play that much with them, but I do try to be around, and kick start games if energy or inspiration seems to be flagging. The pic above is of Nell, 9, with Charlie, 7, and Tom, 5, rounding up a huge beech tree.
In my book Homemade Kids there are loads of ideas about how to play. For example here are some ways of playing as you take a walk to the shops with a little baby and a buggy-using toddler who you’d like to walk some of the way.
Chasing, walking like a mouse (or elephant or dinosaur), race to the flower before me, avoid cracks in the pavement, shadow jump, balance on low walls, hop, skip, fly downhill to the next tree, find something blue, pick up a red leaf/rubber band/petal, look for an ant or hoverfly, find a place to picnic, look for people wearing hats or carrying flowers, find a good stick to carry home. All these simple ideas – used by parents generation after generation – keep your children moving and help them develop the same skills that they can then use with their children. Otherwise they’ll just be plugging your grandchildren into a DS.
It’s possible that so many of us are locked into time-pressured jobs and car culture there feels as if there just isn’t enough time to play. But playing and being with our families is important to our children’s wellbeing. They need love, kindness and our attention far more than Kumon maths and super early violin lessons.
Do what the kids want
The good news is that people can easily start trying to make more effort to do things that they and their children enjoy. One of the lovely mums quoted in my book Homemade Kids told me this summer: “I could probably play more with my kids. But I’ve been making efforts this holiday and even played scrabble and monopoly as well as footie etc (her girls are 7 and 4) ”
It’s a lovely start. Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to play, just remember your inner child. Just one rule to remember now you’re the grown up – don’t strop out if you lose a game.