People are social and long for human connection. This connection includes the knowledge that you are seen and heard, and that you are respected and appreciated for who you are. Children also need human connection; we can connect with them through play. Play is a child’s way to innovate, problem solve and relax. When we play with our children, we can teach them how to interact and play with other children on the playground or at home. Here are some quick tips on how you and your child can connect and build a strong relationship through play.
Always ask first
This models the kind of behaviour that you want them to have with their siblings and other children.
1. Ask your child if you can play with them. If they say no, do not be offended. They might be in the middle of figuring out a solution to a problem they have been working on.
2. Ask them which toy they want you to play with.
Let them lead the play
This shows your child that you care about them and that you are willing to step into their world.
Do not tell them what you two are going to play. Follow their lead. Ask, what do you want to play? What do you want me to do?
Make eye contact and excited facial expressions
This helps your child feel seen and loved. When you act excited, they will be excited.
Sit on the floor with them; get down on their level.
Children have little control or power. This is a way to show them that the two of you are on the same level leading to a deeper connection.
Set boundaries, rules and expectations.
Let them know that hands and feet are for playing and not kicking. Explain that if they throw toys, they will be taken away. Rules and boundaries keep a child feeling secure. This way he or she understands what is appropriate behaviour and what consequences will be if rules are broken. The rules and boundaries set are also for parents to follow. Parents also should not hit, kick or throw.
Dr Monica Borschel is Clinical Psychologist in Hong Kong
Get in touch with Dr Borschel: firstname.lastname@example.org