“It’s all about connection,” explains Dr. Harris. When you play with your kids, ask questions and let them know you enjoy the activity. Let them take the lead! Whether you’re cooking or just taking a walk, there are always opportunities for connection when playing with your child.
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Ever wonder how child psychiatrists like to play with kids? There’s actually one fundamental difference – we really emphasize making
sure your kid takes the lead. It feels like today everything is supposed to be an educational opportunity. It’s teaching counting or it has to be about the letters of the alphabet. But really, play is about connection. So when you’re doing a play activity with your kid, sit down at the same level that they are and ask them
questions. “Who are you?” “Who should I be?” “Where are we gonna go?” If there are characters, let them sign you who to be and then ask each step what you’re going to do next and add-on. So if they tell you, “Yes, you’re going to be the superhero. You’re going to be Batwoman.” Then you say, “That’s awesome. I’m this kind of Batwoman. What should I do next? Do I get to fly?” Let them answer the question and then add that into the play. Not everything has to be educational. One of the most important pieces is that they know that you listen to them and you like enjoy the activity.
You don’t have to pick things that only they like. It’s okay if you do something that simple that you enjoy as well. It can be cooking. It can be going for a walk. And then as you go, you keep finding ways that you can talk to them about the experience.