Let the Kids Play

Building Strong Relationships with Your Children

Relationships shape how children experience the world. Loving, safe, responsive caregiving relationships help children be better prepared to cope with tough times and develop the skills to bounce back and be resilient. Learning to build and maintain relationships, both with adults and other children, helps children learn to express and identify a range of emotions, not only in themselves but other people.

When we focus on building these social and emotional skills, we set our child up to have healthy and successful relationships in the future.

We can help build these skills through:

Talking about and naming emotions

Guiding the child to problem solve

Correcting behavior in a respectful way that explains why that behavior is inappropriate

Discussing how to manage emotions (what we can do when we are sad, upset, or angry to calm down)

Encouraging friendships

Maintaining a positive mindset

The simplest and most effective way to practice the skills above is through play! Play is not just fun; it gives us the opportunity to teach kids about emotions, problem solving, and resiliency. Play is the context through which young children learn how to express themselves.

Children don't have the adult language skills to sit down and tell you things. But in play, they have the opportunity to problem solve, role play, experiment, and make mistakes in a safe environment where they can figure out a solution without consequences or judgement.

Play is “not frivolous and not just for kids, but something that is an inherent part of human nature.”

– Psychiatrist Dr. Stuart Brown

Play can be used to help the development of children of all ages, including infants!

If you have a baby, simply take an object, show it to them, describe it, express an emotion through facial expressions, and vary your tone of voice - that's the start of play for infants. Check out this video of a dad having a playful conversation with his baby

When playing with toddlers, it’s important to see the world from their point of view! This video shares some tips on how.

With preschool-aged children, play with them with their dolls and action figures; listen to the scenarios they make up and how they work through different situations. Teach them how to manage emotions through the play, rather than a lecture.

Healthy relationships with caregivers and learning through play can lead to healthy, resilient kids who have strong emotional and relational skills. When we strengthen and expand those skills through play, we set the children in our lives up for success.

North Range's Family Connects program supports parents, caregivers, families, and childcare professionals in helping young children (ages 0-6) reduce challenging behaviors and gain strong social and emotional skills. To learn more and enroll in one of the many services for children and families, visit NorthRange.org/Family-Connects or fill out the Family Connects interest form.


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