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The answer seems easy. Generally most parents show themselves to be convinced that responsibilities must come first. It is one of our cultural norms to work first and give enjoyment the second place – at least in our part of the world. During childhood, school related work is considered the child duty. Play, on the other hand, is the enjoyment. In fact, plenty of parents use play as a tactic of reinforcement when they disallow play time until the homework is ready.

Let it be said, do not take this blog as a suggestion not to do homework. Life is about expectations and we do well to teach our kids that they must attend to their expectations. However, play is an equally important expectation in that stage. There seems to be a tendency to downplay play!

Play is the source of learning and expression in children. Consider it like a language. As adults learn through lingual interactions (usually), children do through play. Therefore suppressing can indeed have implications for the child. Play is important for children to practice any new skill they acquire, like when they run around once they learn how to walk and keep balance. And also children use play to work through their issues of connection with others. Imagine an instance where a child who feels powerless. This child may engage is particular games which place him/her in a position of control in order to resolve this issue (eg. Playing doctor or teacher).

So play is actually an integral part of growth. Do not just allow play. Encourage it. The benefits of it, especially in childhood are special.

 

– Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness.  He offers parent coaching and social work sessions.  He can be contacted on steve@willingness.com.mt