It can be challenging for parents to remember how wonderful it is to play like a young child. Maybe they even feel awkward or unnatural participating in playtime. This article is for those parents who don’t love to play but want to learn how to play with a baby.
Do You Find Playtime Boring or Frustrating?
It’s ok as a parent to find playtime boring or to feel guilty if you’re not sure how to play with a baby. That doesn’t make you a bad parent; it makes you human. Instead of kicking yourself that you don’t like playtime, you need to understand why you feel this way.
Dr. Becky believes that parents don’t like to play for three main reasons. These are:
- Play doesn’t have a desired outcome: As parents, we have an endless to-do list, and for that reason, playtime can feel like a chore. “Play is really the practice of being present, and I, for one, can be like that’s hard because I’m always trying to accomplish something or do something,” says Dr. Becky.
- You didn’t have the same playtime experience growing up: If your own parents didn’t prioritize playing with you, then it can feel awkward trying to play with your children. “In some ways, if adults didn’t do that with us, we learned as kids to undervalue it. We learned to kind of see it as a solitary experience,” Dr. Becky tells us.
- Playing with kids is frustrating: Playtime often just isn’t fun. Babies and toddlers can get easily frustrated when things aren’t going their way. As Dr. Becky notes, “It is full of frustration because no matter what a kid is playing, it is pretend play, and you’re not doing the thing they want to do.”
Getting to the bottom of why you struggle to join in when your baby is enjoying playtime is the first step to making this a more enjoyable experience for you and your child.
Benefits of Playtime for Babies
While a baby playing with toys may seem like just a fun pastime for kids, it is more than that. Playing is a form of creative expression and helps babies develop various life skills. While it can lead to your child getting frustrated if something doesn’t go their way, that too is helping their development.
According to Dr. Becky, how your child experiences play “is the stuff that’s going to help your kid learn how to read, how to do math, how to take on something new on the soccer field.” Some of the benefits of play for baby development include:
- Improves cognitive skills
- Encourages physical development through movement
- Teaches social-emotional skills
- Improves sensory development
- Boosts language development
Playtime is often considered one of the best foundations for allowing your child to develop essential life skills such as problem-solving, emotion regulation, communication skills, and self-expression. That’s why many early childhood experts encourage parents to allow their babies to play every single day.