One of parenting’s simplest pleasures is watching your child at play. When children at play engage in the basics of movement, touch, and human connection, everything from their motor skills to their attachment systems benefits. Play is an essential part of childhood, as it helps your child understand others and make sense of the world around him.
For your child to benefit most from the experience, play should be:
• Enjoyable: Play is fun for your child. If enjoyment is entirely absent from an activity, most researchers (and most children!) would not call it play.
• Intrinsically motivated: Your child is engaged simply for the enjoyment it brings, and not for an external motivation or purpose.
• Process-oriented: Your child is more focused on the experience than the product that may result.
• Voluntary: Otherwise, it won’t feel like play to your child!
• Actively engaging: Your child is both physically and mentally involved.
• Not bound to reality: Play often involves make-believe.