A GOOD DAD AND THE POWER OF PLAY

“The Power of Play” – that’s the theme for the Downtown Dads Spring Lunch Series. I’m very excited about this series for a number of reasons. Here a just a few:

Dads tend to play with their children more than moms.

Moms may actually spend more time with their youngsters than dads, but moms tend to be involved in activities like feeding, bathing, changing, clothing and comforting. A mother’s contribution is essential to helping a child feel safe and secure. And, of course, many dads do these things too. It’s just that dads tend to bring something to the equation.

Unstructured play, essential to healthy child development, is disappearing from the American landscape.

Children still play, but today many of them engage in activities structured by a screen, designed to teach skills of some sort, or organized with rules and limits overseen by adults. The days of children making up their own games and activities with kids in the neighborhood are waning. Even if they wanted to do this, fewer opportunities exist.

Play is important for developing curiosity, creativity, and imagination.

According to Dr. David Elkind, author of The Power of Play, “These abilities are like muscles. If you don’t use them, you lose them.” Many of today’s toys are programmed to solicit a specific response or reaction from a child, limiting their creativity and imagination. Toys with multiple uses, e.g., blocks, Legos, etc. are good options because children use them in a variety of ways.

In the weeks to come, we’ll be exploring a number of ways dads can playfully interact with their children. Our lunches, podcasts and blog themes will all focus on this essential activity. As a way of introduction to this topic, consider the following points from The Power of Play.

  • Support and encourage your child’s own self-initiated learning activities.
  • Join your child in his or her play.
  • Take care in choosing your child’s toys.
  • Encourage dramatic play, especially with preschoolers.
  • Read to your child as a way to stimulate imagination and support healthy language learning.
  • Play games with rules with your school-age child to help them learn social skills, develop strategies, take risks, and learn skills of observation and evaluation.

I hope you’ll join us in the important topic of play in one or more ways over the next five weeks. It’s bound to be a lot of fun.

About Author

​Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at jennifer@gooddads.com.