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How to Make Playtime be Your Child's Time with You

4 Ways for a Better Playtime 

Many parents realize that to be present, it is important to "read" your child's communications and signals, but they are surprised that during playtime with your kid, you need the same kind of skill and inclination.

Here you'll find 4 tips on how to have a better playtime with your children.

1. As you play, make sure you are following your child's lead rather than the other way around, but also provide well-appointed suggestions and be a real participant. Being emotionally available in such a play situation also means that you attend to, acknowledge, and take notice of your child's emotional reactions and preferences. Be aware that play is your child's time with you.

2. Play with your child so that you can get to know him or her. You don't need to play many hours a day. But at that moment, be present! Without one-on-one play, it is tough to get to know your child enough to know how to structure. That half-hour a day would be the most desired slot of time for your child, so set up the emotional connection by arranging regular playtimes that enable you to hone your structuring skills.

 3. During play and other times, be a participant rather than a removed and distant perspective. Leave your phone in another room, to avoid the temptation. How do you become a participant without becoming intrusive? One of the best ideas you can use is to “describe” the situation rather than prohibit. If you see your child do something he or she should not be doing, rather than saying, “Don’t” or “I told you not to do that”, or other such intrusions, merely describe it. For example, if your child is about to put a wet glass near the television, say, "Sweetie, you are about to put a wet glass near the television". If your child is killing a dinosaur with another during play, say, "The dinosaurs are fighting". These comments are descriptive and make your child think deeply about it and feel that you are a participant without being judgmental or prohibitive. They make you emotionally present, yet nonintrusive.

4. Structure play that is appropriate to your child's age and development. Good structuring usually involves making suggestions that might help your child get where he or she needs to go while letting your child think he or she is doing it on his or her own. Teaching over your child's head or setting overly strict or overly lax and permissive limits is less likely to help your child than setting clear, understandable, and consistent limits. Structure play by giving a "gentle push" rather than "taking over".