Monday, March 5, 2012

10 Benefits To Playing With Our Kids

I'm probably the worst at it. I'm a little inept when it comes to getting down on the floor and playing with my children. I find it a little easier to play ball or a board game, however, being a character in a pretend game of princesses or star wars is a bit more challenging for me. Why is it so hard to enter their world? For me? I'm constantly thinking about something else I should be doing. However, I've heard that playing with our child/children for one hour a day is recommended by the experts, and although I do think our children would turn out okay if we never got down on the floor to engage in their play, I've disciplined myself to give it a try and have learned a few things along the way.

Playing with our child/children:

1.Gives us opportunity to train our children in how to play well together
It gives us opportunity to train our children in how to play well and problem solve together. This is particularly true for my one and three-year-old. I let them guide the play, while I guide the interactions.

2. Gives us opportunity to role-play expected behaviors
It gives us opportunity to role-play manners and character qualities we expect to see in them.

3Builds relationship 
It builds relationship between us and our children and prepares hearts to receive our instruction.  

4. Fills their love tanks
When we give our children our time, they simply feel loved. 

5. Sets the tone for the rest of the day (or morning, afternoon, evening).
When our children feel loved and nourished, they're more likely to play well on their own and to want to please us and obey, and the rest of the day (or morning...) goes so much smoother.

6. Forces us to slow down and lighten up a little
It forces us to lighten up and set aside our adult concerns and demands for a short time. (I know how difficult it can be to be mentally present, however, giving ourselves a general time frame and just forming the habit will help in doing this.)

7. Provides opportunity for us to learn about our children 
It provides opportunity for us to learn about our children and their hearts.
How they play may say a lot about how they see the world or how they feel.

8. Teaches us how to speak their language
How our children play teaches us how to speak to them and connect with them using their lingo.

9. Affirms them
It is affirming to our children when we allow them to guide the play rather than mom and dad calling the shots all of the time.

10. Allows us to be child-like
It gets us on their level remembering, too, that this is the spirit of our character that enters the kingdom. Why not engage and become more like "such as these?"
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14
Generally speaking, if my children are playing well together or on their own and have their creative juices flowing, I don't mess with it. However, I try to be assiduous in responding to a request to play, even if I am in the middle of something. It may be a sword fight with one or a soccer game outdoors with another. It might be playing princesses or a game of chess. It might be for an hour or just ten minutes (usually ten minutes in pretend play!).

I can't say I always jump for joy at the request, but then there are times when I surprise myself! I think it's the likelihood, that if we've made the intentional decision in advance not to turn down a reasonable request to engage our children through play, we'll do it. 

All in all, it's not easy. We have to be willing to make it a practice. Slow down, lighten up and go have a little fun...and while we're at it, fill a love tank with our time. And doesn't that make it all worth it?

How about you? Do you make time to play with your children and, if so, what benefits have you found through it?

I'll be focusing on intentional living over the next weeks. I hope you'll join the conversation so that, together, we can persevere in our challenges and encourage one another!


  1. Great reasons to have fun with our kids.


  2. I was better at playing games too...tea party with my daughters were a stretch...but it was so good to get outside of what was more natural to me...great list...great thoughts...your a good momma...blessings~

  3. So with you having a hard time getting into playing on their level (for more than 5 minutes!) Although I remember wishing my mom would play dolls with me when I was little, and I don't think she ever did...
    Do you think i could convince them that we are pretending we're laundry magicians and putting it away with Mom counts as play-time? ;) LOL

  4. This is so great. Sadly, this doesn't come as easily for me as I would like, although I am always so blessed by each moment I let my guard down and just play! I also have a tough time being present, knowing I need to soak up these precious moments. And I am so grateful for how the Father comes to help me here. Thank you so much for this wisdom, Theresa.

  5. I was 100% ABSOLUTELY meant to read this at 3 AM. May God bless you in knowing that He has blessed me, through you.

  6. I'll echo your thoughts with a loud AMEN. I think Jesus is incredibly playful! And I'm amazed at how often the kids teach me about my playful Savior when I'm willing to step into their world of play. Of course, I'm still waiting for the day that I can play Polly Pockets without hesitation.. that's PURE SACRIFICE on this mommy's part. Who invented little rubber dolls that are SO HARD to dress? Love your wisdom, friend

  7. Great list. It is so important to my youngest to have quality time. It's his love language. Now that he's 10 I'm finding it challenging to spend that time with him doing what I think he wants to do. All I need to do is listen to him and it will present itself.

  8. We love to play board games together. So many interesting conversations and opportunity for learning happens around a game. Great post, thanks for encouraging me to play more!

  9. Being intentional about time with our children is a blessing to us and them. Great post!

  10. Oh, yes. I always find the time to play a board game...but play dinosaurs? it's HARD!
    "Forces us to slow down and lighten up a little" is the one I strive towards the most. . . this is what I need to do. :)
    Thank you for your convicting post!

  11. This is a great article, Theresa! I agree, I think it's so important that we bless our kids and build that relationship with them early in their lives. By doing so, it will cement our relationship with them for years to come.

  12. yes! this is hard for me too. Even as a child, I didn't like things like hide and seek, for me it was more...well, hide and read. ;) sometimes it is a stretch to get me playing along side them.

  13. I love number 10. I think playing has kept me younger :). Of course, my boys think they are too old for the "play" we used to do--the down and dirty on the floor play. But we find ways to be together that take us into that playful mood. It's such a blessing.


I love hearing from you. Thank you for taking a moment to leave a comment!