12 Ways to raise a confident child (part 4 of 12)

And the journey continues…

4. Raise a Confident Child by Playing Together

You will learn a lot about your child—and yourself—during play. Playtime gives your child the message, “You are worth my time. You are a valuable person.” It is well known that children learn through play. It improves a child’s behavior by giving him feelings of importance and accomplishment. Instead of viewing playtime as a chore, use it to make an investment in your child’s behavior.

Let Your Child Initiate the Play

A valuable learning principle that parents should keep in mind is this: an activity initiated by the child confidence-playholds the child’s attention longer than one suggested by the adult playmate. More learning takes place when the child chooses what to do. Child-initiated play also increases self-worth: “Dad likes to do the things I do!” Of course, you may be thinking, “Oh no, not the block game again!” or “We’ve read that story twenty times!” That’s the ordeal of parenting. You’ll get bored with The Cat in the Hat long before your child. If you want to bring something new to the same old play activity, add your own new twists as the play continues. Stop to talk about the book: “What would you do if the Cat in the Hat came to our door?” “Let’s turn this block tower into a parking garage.”

Make Your Child Feel Special

Raise a confident child by focusing your attention on the child during play. If your body is with your child, but your mind is at work, your child will sense that you have tuned out, and neither one of you benefits from the time together. Your child loses the value of your being with her, concluding that she is not important. You lose the opportunity to learn about and enjoy your child—and to relearn how to play.

I remember the fun six-month-old Matthew and I had in our “play circle.” I sat him facing in front of me with a few favorite toys (mine and his), making a circle around him with my legs. This space contained him and provided support in case he, as a beginning sitter, started to topple sideways. Matthew had my undivided attention. He felt special, and so did I. Making all those goofy baby noises is fun.

Parents Need Play

As a busy person, I had a hard time getting down to a baby’s level, enjoying unstructured, seemingly unproductive play. After all, I had so many “more important” things on my agenda. Once I realized how much we both could benefit, this special time became meaningful. Play became therapeutic for me. I needed time away from some of those other things to focus on this important little person who was, without realizing it, teaching me to relax.

Play helped me to get to know Matthew’s temperament and his capabilities at each stage of development. The child reveals himself to the parent—and vice versa— during play; the whole relationship benefits greatly. Playtime puts us on our child’s level, helping parents get behind the eyes and into the mind of their child. Take time to enjoy the simple pleasures of play.

Play Is an Investment

Consider playtime one of your best investments to raise a confident child. You may feel that you are “wasting time” stacking blocks when you could be “doing something” instead. Some adults panic at the thought and really have to struggle to be able to let go of their grown-up agenda. Of course, you don’t have to play all day long, nor will your child want you to (unless he senses your resistance). What may seem like a meaningless activity to you means a lot to your baby.

The more interest you show in doing things with your baby early on, the more interest your child will have in doing things with you when he’s older. As your child grows, you can involve him in your play, and your work since being with you is the best reward. Think of it this way—you are doing the most important job in the world—raising a human being.

December 21, 2020 December 21, 2020 Dr. Bill Sears

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