Are we playing with our children enough?

A nationwide study of British parents has found as many as 87 percent of mums and dads worry that they do not play or engage enough with their children.

Is this something you worry about? Are we so time tight these days that simple things like just playing suffer?

Asked why they struggle to have one-on-one time with their kids, a third (33 percent) said they are too tired after a long day at work, while 31 percent admitted they simply don’t have the energy to play.

Nearly two in five parents (39 percent) agree that the stress of modern living means there is very little time for downtime as a family. Do you agree?

Yet, a clinical report published in 2018 called The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, explains how and why playing with both parents and peers is key to building thriving brains, bodies, and social bonds.

The 2018 US study by the AAP shows how play, especially with parents, improves children’s abilities to plan, organise, get along with others, and regulate emotions. In addition, play helps with language, maths and social skills, and even helps children cope with stress, according to the findings.

However new research of 2,000 parents released recently by Little Tikes, found as many as seven in ten parents (68 percent) across the UK believe their children don’t have enough playtime due to modern day pressures.

A quarter (26 percent) say their children are loaded down with homework, and two in ten think their kids are on an intense treadmill of ‘life’.

Although nearly all parents surveyed agreed that playing with their children is good for the whole family, it can be difficult to commit to this. Nearly half (49 percent) confessed to checking their phone during playtime, and 43 percent have chosen to put the kids in front of the TV instead to give them time to get on with other things. How do you manage the juggle?

However, when asked about the benefits of playing with their children, 61 percent of parents say they love interacting with them, with over half (53 percent) reporting they find it fun – which of course, it should be!

The benefits of play for the relationship between parent and child are even greater, as 67 percent of parents say it strengthens the bond between them. I’m very aware of this when I play with my children – they love nothing more than when we are all involved in the same game together. It could be hide and seek (their favourite), tag, or building a den – it’s the interactions that matter.

There are also important health benefits of play-time too, according to the nation’s parents. More than half (53 percent) believe it helps with brain development, 47 percent say it makes children creative and four in ten (41 percent) think it keeps them healthy.

The research from Little Tikes also found that- despite modern parents wanting to spend more time playing with their children – nearly half of respondents (48 percent) said their own parents played with them less when they were children than they do with their own offspring. Do you agree? I think that is true for me.

It seems too much technology is a big concern for parents today, with 75 percent confessing that they feel guilty about the amount of screen-time their children have. It’s not something we worry about too much in our house as the bulk of the time the children would rather be outside.

The study found that children and parents enjoy playing a range of games together, with board games being the most popular, as chosen by 42 percent of parents.

Our children love board games, things like dominoes and also craft and colouring activities which they love to do all together.

They also enjoy chalking outside, helping in the garden and cooking together.

Building things together and enjoying outdoor games also ranked highly for 39 percent of parents, followed by playing ball games (37 percent) and dancing to music together (36 percent). We can frequently be found dancing around the kitchen together.

Imaginative games are also popular at play-time, including telling stories (34 percent), role play (29 percent) and dressing up (19 percent).

Do you feel modern parents play with their children enough? How to you find a balance?

2 comments

  1. I totally agree with the importance of PLAY in the development of a child.

    A child who has a playful childhood usually grows up to be an awesome adult.

    My mum doesn’t usually play with me when I was little but I am happy to see that you’re doing it for your children.

    Keep doing what you’re doing!

    Thanks,
    Jeremiah

  2. I think that many parents seem far too busy to play with their children and others go over the top with keeping them amused all the time. It is important for children to play with other children and also to learn how to amuse themselves now and again (not including mobile phones, iPads and TV) by painting, drawing, constructing etc with a little parental help.

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