3 Great Reasons to Play With Your Kids

Young girl playing with a hula hoop

When you were young and imagined what life would be like with kids, what did you picture?

If you’re like me, you envisioned playing games with them, taking family adventures, and teaching them how to ride a bike.

You imagined laughter shared around a dinner table and snuggles at bedtime.

You imagined reading books together and sharing heartfelt conversations.

But then, children arrived.

And somewhere between our perpetual exhaustion and unending frustration with their misbehaviors, those idyllic dreams of parenthood flew right out the window.

And instead of looking forward to playing a game at the end of the day with our kids, we LONG for bedtime and a minute to ourselves.

So instead of being excited to play with them, we are overjoyed when our children are able to play independently or play nicely with a sibling.

Breathing room! A few minutes to yourself!

FREEDOM (well, almost).

I get it! I’ve walked in those exhausted shoes! And it IS a wonderful thing when kids are independent enough to play on their own. And, it’s important for their development.

What’s also important, however, is to make sure we play WITH our kids on a daily basis.

You know…eye-to-eye, on the floor, forgetting about your to-do list, not having another care in the world except having fun with your child.

“Play” is whatever your child likes to do for fun. Toddler time can be tossing a ball, finger painting, or breaking out the blocks. Teen time might be a round of Uno, a turn at an Xbox game, or playing catch in the backyard.

In case you need a little convincing, here are 3 great reasons to play WITH your kids…

1. It’s a chance to create an emotional connection

Much of the daily interaction between parents and kids consists of “ordering, correcting, and directing.”

Drink your milk.
It’s time to take your bath.
Stop hitting your sister.
(Fill in your favorite here.)

When parents order, correct, and direct, they are operating from the “Parent Ego State” (telling someone else what to do) and this type of interaction often invites the “fight” response in our kids, resulting in power struggles.

When parents play on the floor and have fun with their kids – both the parent and child are operating in the “Child Ego State.” The child ego state is where emotional connections are made.

It doesn’t require a long time to create emotional bonds – but being INTENTIONAL about spending playtime each day with your child in the “child ego state” will do wonders for strengthening emotional connections. You’ll also create memories you’ll both treasure forever.

2. You’ll have fewer attention-seeking misbehaviors

When parents play WITH their children, they proactively fill the child’s attention basket in positive ways.

Children have a hard-wired need for attention. If parents don’t provide sufficient POSITIVE attention, children will resort to negative behaviors to get it such as whining, clinging, helplessness, sibling fighting, etc.

When parents implement consistent playtime WITH their children – attention-seeking misbehaviors begin to fall off the radar screen!

3. You’ll have more cooperative children

As parents fill attention baskets in positive ways and emotional connection increases, children consistently become MORE COOPERATIVE at other times during the day!

When the child’s core emotional requirements for connection and attention are met, he or she doesn’t feel the need to “fight us” to get negative attention and is more cooperative when asked to do things throughout the day. Now that’s a beautiful thing!

Life gets busy – sometimes crazy busy –  and it feels like there’s not enough time left in the day to get it all done – playtime included.

What I can promise you though…is that when you take just 15 minutes a day to fill up those emotional buckets for your kids – you’ll actually have MORE time, because you’ll be saving yourself from power struggles, sibling battles, chore wars and the rest!

How’s that for a win-win?

Final Thoughts

Fostering the habit of playing with your children is a great first step in changing your child’s behavior. But trust me, I know it’s not a cure-all for the wide range of frustrating behaviors you may be experiencing.

That’s exactly why I create the Positive Parenting Solutions Course and filled it with 37+ tools to help parents handle even the trickiest power struggles.

If you don’t know where to begin on this positive parenting journey, I’d love for you to JOIN ME FOR A FREE ONLINE CLASS. In just one hour, I’ll teach you how to get your kids to listen — no nagging, yelling, or reminding required.

As always, I’m wishing you all the best on your parenting journey and I’m here for you whenever you need it!

About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.