Playing is important for each development sector of your child and for his education. By playing, the child acquires skills, knowledge and creative thought that will equip him for adulthood. There are various types of games:
- Physical, active games (running, stairs, ball, climbing etc.)
- Experimentation games (putting things in boxes, shapes etc.)
- Creative games (drawing, cutting-bonding, music etc.)
- Imagination games (errands at home, dollhouses, lego blocks etc.)
- Messy play games (in the sand, water, soil, moving objects from one place to the other etc.)
- Role-playing games (board games, hide and seek etc.) usually for children over 2-3 years old
Each of these types of games is necessary for the psychomotor maturation of your child. Children need to be occupied every day with a variety of activities that cover all types. For example, a child who has many toys at home, but doesn’t get out, misses physical games. Another child whose parents avoid messy play games (for obvious reasons) doesn’t have the opportunity to actively configure his environment.
It is necessary for you to find even some time to play yourselves with your child. If you organize your house correctly, you can find some space and time for each game type, with safety and without much disturbance. Follow the child’s attention every time, and don’t guide him all the time in what to do. Let the child take initiative, but expand what he does every moment, provide a new dimension and stimuli with talking and innovations. You should bear in mind that the smaller a child is, the less time he can focus on something specific. Be prepared to move from one game to the other.
Buying many and expensive toys for the child is not the most important thing. Children play with everything. The secret is for them not to get bored of their toys. This is why you shouldn’t offer them all at once. You can hide some of them from time to time. When you bring them back, the child will be happy as if they were new. Exchange toys with neighbors or take the child to a playground to ‘change the scenery’.
Playing is a serious matter. Think how your child will play better. Many times, if the child does not get opportunities to play, he faces a greater risk of developing difficult behavior, hyperactivity or depression.
Stelios Papaventsis Paediatrician MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2010