There’s a reliable set of rules you can follow to make playing with your children more fun for both of you.
If you’ve ever found yourself making excuses to avoid playing with your children, you’re not alone. Those of you who know me personally know I grew up in a house full of girls. Very little of what I played growing up has been useful for me as a mother of four boys. On top of that, my imagination, like that of many adults, grew dusty as I aged. I didn’t nurture it the way I should have and creative, playful ideas weren’t always readily forthcoming.
I wanted to be the kind of mother who played with her boys, but unless it was a structured, predictable activity, like a sport, I struggled to do it well; and eventually I found myself making excuses to avoid any kind of play that required creativity.
Fortunately, I discovered there’s a reliable set of rules you can use to make creative play with your children more fun for both of you—even if your imagination has grown dusty. They’re similar to the rules comedians use when they’re improvising.There's a reliable set of rules you can follow to have more fun playing with your children. Click To Tweet
Rules for Creative Play:
- Always agree. Don’t turn down or block a statement from your child. If your child says you’re walking on the moon, agree and build on that idea. Don’t try to top it or improve it. Your child will naturally play at their level. Trying to introduce more than they’re ready for will be confusing and frustrating.
- Avoid asking questions. Asking questions when you’re supposed to be involved in an imaginary moment breaks the magic. Instead make statements like, “I’m falling out of the airplane, help me!” Your child might choose to help you, and they might choose to push you down faster. It’s all part of the creative process. Refer back to the first rule and roll with it.
- Follow their lead. When it comes to playing, children are the experts. Treat them that way. Listen carefully and respond appropriately. Behave as if you’re honored to engage in their world.
- Don’t try to be funny. Funny situations happen while playing, of course, but don’t force it. Out of place humor will feel like you’re not taking the game seriously.
- Try to make your child look good. The better you make your child feel, the better the game is going to go.
You will find the storylines in creative play change from child to child, and even from minute to minute. Sometimes playing with children can feel like trying to follow the plot line of a dream—jumping from one plot to another with no logical explanation. If you’re a naturally logical person, this can be challenging. That’s okay, keep working at it and you will learn. Remind yourself that playing doesn’t have to make sense. Follow the rules above and you’ll find yourself having fun and feeling more successful. You might even start to look forward to the mental break you experience while stretching your imagination.
Also note that your children most likely aren’t aware of these rules and will break them often, that’s okay too. These rules are for you.