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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Importance Of Playing With Your Child

Childhood is fleeting and goes by so fast. It's easy to make the mistake of thinking that you'll always be dealing with dirty diapers, homework, driving the kids to and from school and after-school activities, tantrums, teenage mood swings and visits to the pediatrician. And in making this mistake, you may make an even bigger one.

You may neglect to play with your children and spend quality time with them TODAY! It's so easy to brush off your children's requests for time, attention and play with "Tomorrow. We'll play tomorrow, I promise." And of course, tomorrow has new chores, and things that must be done. So play time gets put off indefinitely.

But take a moment to consider this. From birth up until the age of 18 you only have 6574 precious days. That may seem like a lot at first glance. But if your child is already 10 years old, then you have only 3652 days left. Subtract the days spent at school, summer camp and other activities that take your child away from you, and you'll be shocked at just how little time you have for one to one interaction with your child.

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A finite amount of days in which to mold your child's character and and make the indelible mark of unconditional love on your child's soul. A finite amount of days in which to instill the values that you hold dear and to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Of course, the activities you do with your child at age 15 will be very different from those you do when your child is 15 months old. Your teenager will not be interested in visiting the petting zoo anymore than your 1 year old will enjoy a trip ice-skating!

I'm so happy that I learned to play with my children. Playing with them has created many wonderful memories that I will carry with me throughout my life. And I'm sure it's done the same for them.

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There are so many things to do and wonderful family friendly places to visit that you need never run out of ideas.

And you don't need any special skills to play with your children either. If you've forgotten how to play, let your child guide you. Playing with your child doesn't have to be elaborate, complicated or expensive.

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What your child needs from you is your undivided attention and love. An added benefit is that as you spend time playing with your child, you'll learn more about the values she's picking up from her peers or what problems or challenges she is facing. And most importantly, you'll find out what your child is thinking.

Playtime is also time for character building and time to impart the values that you hold dear. The best way to teach your child these valuable life lessons is during the course of everyday living. And what better time than when you are spending quality time together doing something you both love. I'm not suggesting that you preach to your child and turn every activity into a thinly disguised sermon, but that you keep an eye out for 'teachable moments' where you can share your values in the context of real life.

I hope that by now I've convinced you of the importance of spending time playing and having fun with your children. But family fun doesn't just happen. You have to go out and create it. And of course, you have to make time for it. My challenge to you this week is to go out and have fun with your family. It will be the best thing you've done both for yourself and your loved ones.

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