But many parents have some big misconceptions about imagination-based play and how it should be controlled or limited. This can have a severe effect on your child’s development, so let’s have a look at a few of the misunderstandings that some parents have.
1. Play is a Waste of Time
The first is this idea that play doesn’t really accomplish anything. Indeed, in a modern world such as ours, where we tend to want solid, tangible results for every endeavor we take on, it can be hard to see how a child’s fooling around does anything constructive for them.
For that reason, some parents take on an attitude of simply making room for play but not making it a priority. In other words, they allow it and possibly see it as a way to keep the children out of their hair when there are “more important” things to do, but that is about the extent as far as it goes.
The truth is that playtime plays a huge role in cognitive, social, physical, and emotional development. What seems like a child messing around and wasting time is a crucial part of their life process at this stage.
2. Good Guy/ Bad Guy Play Leads to Violence
Another common misconception is the idea that adversarial-based play, where the type of violence you might have seen on low budget films from the late 80’s comes into play, can create violent children, or at least violent adults later in life. This is a slippery slope parents have slid down.
The truth is that acting out these types of fantasies gives children a chance to explore the questions of right and wrong, learn negotiation, and practice controlling their emotions during power struggles. In fact, many experts say that children deprived of this type of imaginary play or more likely to be violent later on in life or have other behavioral problems. Let it run its course–it’s good for them.
3. Play Should be Controlled
Another tendency many parents have is to control the outcome of their child’s playing around. This happens a lot when the game is emphasized on creating something and the parent wants to make sure they get the right lesson out of the process. While the intentions behind this misconception are fair enough, usually it is ends up being a hindrance to a child’s creativity.
Creativity is quite possibly the most underrated intelligence known to man, and that’s what your child should be working on the most. If you are always pushing them and guiding them, not allowing them to fail and to solve problems, the most rewarding part of the exercise is lost.
Playtime can do with a little bit of structure from time to time, but for the most part, it should be allowed to flow. Give them a chance to take over, make their own decisions, and do what they want. Of course, this is all within reason, but the whole point is to let them learn to think on their own.
4. Play is Entertainment
As hinted above, some parents look at play as a way to “keep the kids busy” or distract them while you handle responsibilities. This is one of the main reasons parents these days have given video games and television sets so much reign over the lives of modern children. It’s understandable why–we’re busier than ever and we just don’t have the time, so we plop them in front of a screen and we’ve got hours, or even days, to do what we need to do. And then it becomes habit–for us and for them.
It’s important to realize just how crucial the process of playing, imagining, and running around like a goofball is for your children, and make it a point to produce an environment where they are allowed to run free. It truly is an essential component to getting a healthy start in these beginning stages of their precious lives.