Quarantine! A word that wasn’t even in our vocabulary and now it became our daily reality. Some people are even starting to romantacize it. The struggle is real. Thousands of families are facing difficult times without any income. Parents have to suddenly balance between remote learning, working from home and house chores. However, regardless of how we feel about this phase, one thing all parents would agree on: We all want those unusual days to be as smooth and peaceful as possible for our kids. When I was trying to think how to do this, all I could think of was play! Why play?
Through play, children build and strengthen socio-emotional and cognitive skills. According to Dr. Karyn Purvis, co-founder of the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University says, it takes over 400 repetitions to create a synapse in the brain (true learning) unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.
Play also enables children to develop emotional regulation skills such as coping mechanisms, impulse control, and sharing skills. It’s crucial for learning. Albert Einstein believed that “Play is the highest form of research”.
Therefore, to find ideas about how to use play beneficially and constructively. We interviewed Merhan Mostafa , the Playful Parenting Coach.
Hi Merhan. It’s definitely a stressful time, how can parents add some fun into the daily routine while minimizing the tension ?
Fostering gratitude is beneficial to teach children to have a positive attitude. Me and my daughters we mark 100 points of happiness. We draw a circle for each thing that makes us happy until we make 100 colorful circles. It helps them see and recognize their blessings.
We’ve tried arranging for the kids to meet their friends on zoom, so they remain connected to their friends.
Movie nights with pop corn is always fun. We dim the lights and make it feel like a cinema.
Camping indoors with my girls was fun. They loved it. Cooking together is another activity that we all enjoy.
An interesting challenge that can be fun is to learn a new word each day from another language and try to use it. It can bring a lot of laughter.
Home learning is a struggle for many kids and parents. How can the parents handle that without power struggles?
Try to make a plan and have a fixed schedual that includes regular breaks. Maintaining a routine and structure can help make it more smooth.
How can we use play to deal with behavioral issues?
First, before regarding a child as problematic and judging ourselves as parents, it is very important to keep in mind that children are good and they never intend to misbehave.
“Children DO Better When They FEEL Better”, says Dr. Jane Nelsen, the founder of Positive Discipline. If we see misbehavior as a reflection of hard emotions rather than a failure of our parenting system, we would better be able to address the root of the problem and therefore solve it effectively.
Playful parenting experts believe that aggressive behavior is a result of suppressed moments of fear. So they use play to release those emotions. Playing pillow fight for example has been proven to help minimize aggressive behavior.
Also switching roles is a beneficial game to minimize power struggles. The parents pretends to be the child and the child pretends to be the parent. It gives the child a sense of power.
Blowing bubbles is great for stress relief.
Parents already feel burnt out as they have to deal with working from home, home learning for the kids and household chores. Do you have advice of how to get children to be more cooperative?
It’s not likely that a child will cooperate if you shout your commands from far across the room. It is more helpful to make an eye contact with them. Give choices and remember that obedience is not a measurement of discipline. It’s very important to keep in mind that when children feel connected to their parents and truly seen, cooperation comes naturally.