Special Needs Parents, Remember Playtime Is Therapeutic

Friday, January 10, 2020

A lot of my posts in this series, 30 Days To Becoming A Better Special Needs Parent, are going to have a focus around letting go of your guilt. I may not specifically say "let go of your guilt", but that is an underlying theme, because guilt leads us to feeling like we're not enough, and it's just not true.

Two young girls, coloring and wearing pirate eye patches.

So, here is where I want to talk about playtime for your child, and what it means for how much you are doing for them.

Playtime is therapeutic.. for your child and for you. Here's why...

Whether they are on a playground, playing in their room with toys, playing a video game, or playing with a sibling/friend.. consider the life skills that they have the opportunity to practice.

  • Social communication (verbal & nonverbal)
  • Coping skills
  • Confidence building
  • Problem-solving
  • Creative thinking
  • Self-control
  • Motor development
  • Physical health
  • Self-understanding
  • Spatial skills
  • Attention
  • Better mental health
  • Exploration/Creativity
I could keep the list going, honestly, because playtime is therapy. There is a reason that children are naturally playful and curious and forever getting into things. They learn this way. The foundation of learning is by doing. Giving children the opportunity to learn in an environment where they are more relaxed and happy, is the perfect environment for those skills to really sink in!

So frequently, we skip out on the playtime. We get busy. We tell our kids "No, not today", when they ask to go to a playground because, maybe, we are really busy. But remember that, not only are they getting all of that out of playtime, but you also have a bit of time to decompress. Allow them to have that little bit of time to explore and learn, and allow yourself the time to sit down and think.

Take a breath of fresh air. Listen to a podcast with one earbud in, while the other listens for your child. Talk with a friend. Just sit and be. Give yourself that time to recoup, while they are growing into the people they need to be!

Don't, for one second, believe that allowing them to play, rather than do school work or some other daunting task, is somehow neglectful. They are still learning.

A young girl with reddish-pink hair, building something with wooden dowels.

Remember that everyone learns at different paces and there is no point in trying to force tasks. Playtime is therapeutic, and maybe they need that time. Let your kids play while they still want to learn in this manner, because one day, we lose that... 

Not only will they be better people for it, but so will you.

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