The Power of Playing with Your Kids

Playing Your Kids’ Way

Article Summary: Kids are often more receptive to learning in casual environments. Here, Dr. Erik Fisher, author of The Art of Empowered Parenting, discusses the power of playing your kids’ way.

I love to watch kids play, and I love to play with kids. I feel lucky enough to be able to do both every day. As a psychologist and a father, I love what I do and feel blessed to see kids show me who they are, what they feel, and what they are learning through the manner in which they approach play.

Kids, through their innocence, bring so much to their play experiences. Sometimes their actions are an expression of their inner selves and sometimes their actions are an expression of what they have seen in their environment. What I often observe in my work with families is that parents want to correct, steer, punish or even ignore what their child may be offering through the language of play. What I want to help parents and caretakers to do is to observe and participate with children during play.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been playing with kids wondering where we were going and then seemingly out of nowhere came a theme. For example, when watching a child draw, do they draw people? Houses? Trees? Landscapes? How are the people interacting? Are they holding hands? Playing? Fighting? Ask questions of your kids. See if they will tell you a story about their drawing. See if you can find recurring themes in their drawings. If there are conflicts or issues that arise through their drawings, see if you can help them find solutions.

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