Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Better Than Words

I was honored that Chicago’s WGN television presented, in their broadcast, a little feature about my work yesterday.   Since the holidays are nearing, I had been asked to prepare to offer parents, as part of the segment, a “helpful tip” about play to keep in mind. 

The interviewer never got around to asking me for my “tip,” so I thought I would offer it here.  I can’t let all of my preparation go to waste!

As you are putting together the gift list and trying to picture your child playing with those gifts after the holidays......put yourself in that picture.

Over the years the toy and game industry has, successfully, "sold" parents on the idea that the play value of a toy is measured by the amount of time that children can be off on their own.....leaving the adults to enjoy a bit of their own time.  

It is certainly exciting when young children enter that “magical world” and get “lost” in play for hours on end.  But it is important to remember that the young children who have had a caring adult "in the picture," joining in the play for a time, are the ones that become the most competent and, eventually, the most independent players. The little things that parents do to help young children, in the beginning, learn about the possibilities for play often go unnoticed, even by parents themselves as they are doing it. 

When parents put themselves in the picture for a time, the rewards last a lifetime. Child development experts will tell you that the children are rewarded with enhanced developmental abilities.  The parents are rewarded, as well, with more capable children and great memories of time spent together.

I never got around to sharing those remarks and, frankly, I am thankful for that.  The parents and children that joined me on the television set provided, by their example, an even more significant lesson.  I am thankful to them for showing, through their family play, what my words would have missed. 

Of course there are developmental benefits to play, but around the holidays it is best to remember what we know in our hearts

More than any toy or game, children will look back and remember the time they spent playing with the ones they love.  And, for the rest of their lives, they will own those memories and expectations about how we act towards those we care for.

You can watch the brief segment here: