Play time is an important part of childhood development. Play helps children grow, learn, communicate, connect and develop. Every child of every age should be exposed to opportunities to play; both alone and with company. The power of play time should not be underestimated. But have you ever considered the impact of play on your child's sleep? Enhance Sleep promotes the power of a ten minute, child-led episode play somewhere in the evening routine. Read on to find out why and what you may be missing out on by not offering this.
WHY IS PLAY SO IMPORTANT?
Play changes as children mature. Simple every day tasks that entertain young babies evolves into more complex games enriched by a growing imagination. Research has shown play encourages confidence, normal development, emotional regulation, language and strengthens bonds between child and play mate. Physical play is also celebrated for its reduction of childhood obesity.
You may have heard Enhance Sleep talk about an analogy that children have "Invisible buckets" that need to be constantly filled. Every day a parent is required to fill each emotional bucket with love, attention and the sharing of decision making. Depleted metaphorical buckets can leave children to looking to refill their bucket in less desirable ways. Are you struggling with bedtime battles? Stalling tactics to get your attention? Whinging, crying, hitting or biting? Understanding your child's figurative bucket is low could be the reason. Yes, you heard me right, a child who's bucket is filled is more likely to play independently, settle for bedtime easier and sleep better at night.
The dishes can wait; instead make a conscious decision to accept your child's invitation to play. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Today's lifestyles and mobile devices mean parents are often not as available to their children. On such days (we have all had them as parents) power struggles, tantrums, tears and frustration are often observed. It seems the busier we get as parents the harder parenting becomes.
HOW TO REFILL A CHILDS METAPHORICAL BUCKETS
Simple actions of extra cuddles could work but more often than not more connection is needed. This is more than attending gymnastics or swimming lessons. The true benefits come from unstructured, unscheduled and child-led play. Enhance Sleep encourages you to
🌟 Turn off all devices
🌟 Set aside 10minutes without interruption (ideally in the evening time between dinner and bed)
🌟 Offer your child an invitation to play. Let them lead the game. Do not try to change the direction of the game. Laugh more; it really is the best medicine.
🌟 Rough and tumble, lego, blowing bubbles in the bath, role play, dolls, musical instruments, read books, puzzles or colouring.
🌟 Allowing your child to choose and lead the game is a positive way to refill their power/control bucket
🌟 The game itself, connecting with you, refills their love/attention bucket.
Ten minutes of uninterrupted, child-led play is the power tool of parenting. .
In summary, it is well known children need to sit less and play more. Play is more than just physical activity. Play offers opportunity to connect, develop and grow. Child-led play time offers opportunity for young children to feel in control, loved and therefore attention seeking behaviour is sought for less in the hours before sleep arrives.
Sleep deprivation is torture. Tessa Gow is a midwife and certified sleep consultant working with families across the globe. She offers nurturing methods with lasting results. Let her be the support and guidance you need to get through this. On the other side of a consultation with Enhance Sleep is rested, functioning families. Take the first step towards healthy sleep by contacting me today.
The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent - child bonds. Ginnsburg, K (2007) Paediatrics Journal. Journal link here
Associations of outdoor play and screen time with nocturnal sleep duration and pattern among young children. Xu, H. Wen, L.M. Hardy, L. Rissel, C. (2016) PubMed. Journal link here
Physical activity, screen time and sleep duration of children aged 6-9 years in 25 countries: An analysis within the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative. Whiting et al (2015-207) PubMed publication. Journal link here