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It’s Time to Play! 

As a parent, one of the greatest joys is to watch my child play, especially when I can tell he is using his imagination and creating in his world. As of lately, he is OBSESSED with DINOSAURs! I mean, while he may struggle to say many smaller words, he can say that word so perfectly!  

His father and I can tell that he is very excited about DINOSAURS. He is working diligently to pronounce some of their names, which is complicated for me even to say. 

One of the most beautiful parts about this newfound interest is the opportunity for him to learn so much more than even we can see. It’s also providing us many opportunities to play and enjoy him enjoying this newfound interest. It’s so wonderful to see him speaking so many more words thanks to the playtime he’s enjoying with Dinosaurs.  

Playtime and the Messages Your Child Hears

While I’m so excited about his new interest, I know nothing about dinosaurs or even how to “play” with dinosaurs. So, this is yet another opportunity to connect with him by getting down on his level and allowing him to teach me about his new favorite activity. The joy these toys bring to my son puts a smile on my face. He holds them, kisses them, feeds them with his spoon, and genuinely is focused and interested in playtime again. Since these are his favorite things at the moment, I’ve taken it upon myself to learn more about dinosaurs and show an interest in playing with them with my son. I hope to reinforce the message of acceptance, safety, trust, and a feeling that he can share things with his Dad and me as he gets older. I want him to know that we genuinely are interested in something he enjoys and will “play” with him and be there for him at every stage of his life.  

Maybe for your child, it’s dolls, video games, card games, board games, a particular sport, etc., all of which may take some intentionality for you to learn about it, engage in play with them, and make the time to do so. Let me encourage you, though, that you are reinforcing messages of trust, acceptance, and deeper connection each time you make space for intentional play and relationship.  

Playtime’s Connection Opportunity 

I genuinely believe this intentional interaction in playtime will affect the relationship with your child later in life. When we show interest and genuinely value what makes them happy, it sends messages that we want them to have joyful experiences, and we want to be a part of those moments in their lives. As parents, our support and interest in them will also be increasingly important when our kids struggle with the learning and growth that happens throughout life.  

Furthermore, I want my child to feel safe to share his feelings with me. Playtime with him will begin to reinforce that message from the very beginning. If we can start by interacting with our kids in things they enjoy, they will be more likely to include us in the challenging moments of their lives.  

Conclusion

What is one thing that your child is interested in that you could engage in playtime with them? If you’d like, share your experience with your intentional efforts. I’d love to hear!! 

For continued support in a deeper connection with your children and practical ways to make that transition happen, follow me on Facebook or Instagram, as well as these weekly blog posts. Let me reiterate that if you are a parent struggling to connect with your child or feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do, please reach out to me at Vander Hooven and Associates. Parenting isn’t easy, and there will always be difficult days, but you can also achieve a connected and thriving relationship with your children. It is worth the time and effort to invest!

Maurissa Szilagi, Senior Clinician, is an Associate Clinical Worker specializing in attachment issues, connection with others, trauma, foster care and adoption, and family counseling. She is in private practice at Vander Hooven and Associates. Maurissa earned her Master of Education in Psychology and Human Development from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She also earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California. She has extensive experience with foster care and adoption attachment counseling and provides one-on-one coaching and counseling with individuals and families.