Play isn’t just a fun thing to do. It’s how your child learns, expresses their emotions and bonds with others. So it is enlightening to hear that a recent survey of 6-12 year olds found that half of children named their mum and dad as their ultimate playmate, beating friends, toys, superheroes and celebrities! Yet not all of us make as much time to play as our little ones would like.

It’s so heartening to hear that mums and dads are the people children most want to spend time with
says parenting author, Tanith Carey

The survey found that on average, parents are arranging around six fun activities a month to enjoy with their child – and most of these tend to be during the school holidays. This needn’t be expensive though. More than half of kids consider playing in the garden or heading to the woods as the most fun they could have. Best-selling parenting author Tanith Carey says: “It’s so heartening to hear that mums and dads are the people children most want to spend time with. These findings underline how essential spending time playing with our kids is to the parent-child bond.” Inspired to set aside some time to play?

How to be the perfect playmate: tips for parents

Here are Tanith’s tips for being the best playmate for your child…

  • Make one-on-one play-time a regular event

Just because the children are at school all day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make time for play. If you schedule daily regular ‘special’ playtime with your child, you will keep up your bond and understand their world better. Playing with your children will even result in better behaviour because they will feel secure in the knowledge that every day you are setting aside time especially for them.

  • Get down on the floor

That way you are down ontheir level and they know you are fully committed to taking part. Put your phone away, or preferably leave it in another room, so your child knows you have their undivided attention and they can relax into the flow of the activity.

  • Let your child choose

As parents, we spend a lot of time telling our kids what to do – so let play be the arena where THEY make the decisions. If you are stuck for ideas, turn to websites or Pinterest which have a library of fun playtime ideas for both parents and children. Let your child make the choice as to what they fancy doing. By giving kids a short time when they are in charge, they won't need to take control so much at other times. So ultimately you may also see fewer tantrums.

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  • Don’t worry about the outcome

Having a good play is about the process of having fun, not about worrying about how perfect the craft project is or turning it into a lesson. Kids are already learning everything they need to know by interacting with you, using team-work and letting their imaginations run free.


(** Survey results were originally from KinderNauts 2017)