Playtime...At Any Age!

I’ve always loved playing with my kids. It’s fun to read a baby’s face closely, make an exaggerated face, and get a smile or play peek-a-boo, and get a giggle. As kids become toddlers, they love to ride you like a camel—or an unpredictable cow—that may switch directions or slowly collapse to the floor to take a nap…

One of my kids loved the Dr. Seuss book Hop on Pop, and we created a game of it. My husband would lie on the floor, and our son would sneak up on him and “hop on pop.” In elementary school, our kids loved family nights with board games and card games. They also enjoyed exploring playgrounds by visiting different parks or going to a water park or pool.
When my kids became teenagers, they liked to ignore—or roll their eyes—at our attempts to play with them. They sometimes could be coaxed by water balloon fights or a super-fast game of spoons, but it all depended on what kind of mood they were in—or if we included at least one of their friends. (That seemed to be the winning key: adding a friend or two.) Now that our kids are older, they think going to concerts with us is fun (especially if it’s one of their favorite music groups… and we pay). They also find healthy teasing great fun, especially since we know each other well and like to tease each other about our foibles. Over the years, I’ve realized that growing up with our kids—including the way we play with them—makes family time more fun.

Did you know…
1. Play helps to sculpt the brain in positive ways, say researchers.
2. To help kids meet their full potential, researchers say they need to play and socialize while they play.
3. The absence of play is one of the childhood traits missing in adults who commit crime.
4. Americans suffer from a play deficit that’s as big as their sleep deficit.
5. The opposite of play is depression. Over responsibility kills a sense of play.

Stuart Brown, M.D., Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (New York: Avery Books, 2009), 34.
June 21, 2010.
• Learn more about playing together at Family Fun
• Discover more about play at the National Institute for Play.
Image via Sean Dellinger Flick’r

We want to know: How do you play with your kids?


I think that playing with your children is very important as well. Children are attention seeking and they don’t care if the attention is negative or positive. Often times children engage in negative behaviors just to receive their parents attention. Spending time playing with your children may actually decrease the amount of disciplining that you need to do. I recently listened to a humorous, informative podcast on this topic at (it is also available on i-tunes).


Play is essential. Grandparents can be great role models for parents on how to play with kids. Hearing a child giggle is the sweetest music in the world. Thanks Jolene for writing about your experiences. Gail Miller

Hi, I have two kids and I’m a firm believer in play. It’s not only beneficial for kids but also parents. I love it when my 5 year old squeals out in joy when laughing about something we are doing…for my 12 year old he’s much more in tuned to games so when he’s playing a game on “Family Game Night”, he’s reminded that it’s OK to be a kid.

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