Self-esteem is your child’s passport to lifetime mental health and social happiness
Of all the self-esteem activities for kids, play is one of the most essential. Yet, play is in danger of becoming a lost ‘art’ for families, as 21% of time-starved parents admit that they have forgotten how to play and struggle to engage their children in creative and imaginative activities that will help their development and increase their self-esteem.
Lots of research has shown that brain connections develop during periods of play so it is vital to emotional, physical and intellectual development.
For a child there is no more constructive activity than play. When analyzing the importance of play, particularly if you’re tempted to introduce a more “worthwhile” activity such as flash cards, educational computer games or dancing or karate lessons, you should take into account the following points:
• Play allows a young child to be “in charge.” Often children are constantly being told what to do and how to do it in their everyday lives, they’re small and powerless, so play lets them explore their world free from adult interference, without an adult around, they’re running the show!
• Play also helps children learn about the world in which they live. They can investigate and discover, test their theories, explore spatial relationships as well as cause and effect, and they can enjoy role play and exploring your family values such as kindness and patience.
• Play builds self-esteem. Children will often play at something they know they can do well, at which they can be successful.
• Play builds social skills. Children will begin playing with inanimate and non-threatening objects, like cuddly toys, bricks etc., so they are practicing their interactive skills. Later, playing with other children will build on this foundation as they learn to share, take turns, assert themselves and begin to empathize with others.
• Play with parents shouldn’t be underestimated either, as research shows that children whose parents play with them ultimately develop superior social skills.
• Playing with your kids builds up great family memories, bonds you together and makes life fun. It also builds bridges not walls between you and shows you love and care enough about your kids to spend time with them doing fun stuff.
• Playing doesn’t have to be hard work, complicated or boring – it can be doing simple and inexpensive things like riding a bike, playing on the swings, playing cards or a board game.
• Play also provides the opportunity for children to work out their feelings. A child who’s worried about going to the dentist, for example, may deal with the anxiety by setting up a clinic for dolls with toothache.
• Play helps with language development. Think of the vast number of words a child uses during play, many of them repeatedly, enhancing their language skills.
• Play allows children to grow beyond their years. They can pretend to be all sorts of things in play – a doctor, a surgeon, a teacher, a plumber, a chef, a fire fighter!
• Don’t forget to consider the importance of stimulating your child’s creativity and imagination – making a castle in the sand, or a car garage out of a shoe box, taking an order in their own (imaginary) café or dressing up as a king or queen – these all allow children to stretch the limits of their world and experience the fun in make-believe.
If you think your child’s holidays or weekends will be long, full of whining about “being bored” and stressful, they will be. Just take a moment to ponder your child’s wedding day one day and the memories you have built, nurtured and created for them throughout their childhood – how do you want them to describe growing up with you and the summer holidays or weekends?
It’s all about your mindset as your children take their cue from you.
Playing with your kids can be an opportunity, not something to be endured, and if you take yourself back to the vision of why you wanted to have children in the first place it will make you connect to the bigger picture again and get you focusing on the love you have for them.
“Using this reading program, my son’s reading skills have been raised to a level well beyond his grade. I cannot credit the Reading Kingdom enough for raising my son’s self-esteem and guiding him on a path to achieving his full potential.” — V.W. Shiah, M.D. and parent