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How to Help small Children Play Happily

Updated on October 16, 2015
Imaginary Play
Imaginary Play | Source

The Sweetness of Child's Play

Priceless Contentment

In a world of continual change that happens in a heart beat, where technology is superseded in an instant and TV images flash and change before us with lightning speed. A child is often the odd one out if they don't have an Ipod, Ipad or the latest gadget to impress.

It is heart warming, then, to realize that children don't need the latest new thing to be happy and content in life.

As a grandmother of two beautiful baby girls it was brought home to me on a recent visit, that children have very basic needs. Eating wooden chicken and pancakes that had been cooked and served up by my two year old granddaughter on her toy oven, in imaginary play, I couldn't help but think the psychologist got it so right with his famous statement that humanities basic needs are 'To love and to be loved'.

Basic Needs

Small children are little people with the same needs for love, comfort, security, acceptance and approval that we have as adults. The lovely thing is that this love by a significant adult in their life is more important for them than any toy or activity on offer to them.

It is easy to see this when playing with a small child. They love simple play such as games like hide and seek; peek a boo; follow the leader that allow them to imitate and copy. They love repetition, particularly books that repeat the same or similar phrases throughout the story.

As a matter of fact the simpler you keep it with them, the better it is for them. For example, children are born with wonderful imagination and begin imaginary play when very young.

Pretend Play

Pretending to talk on a telephone, to take care of their baby dolls the way mommy takes care of the baby, to cook cakes on their pretend oven are some of the ways that small children need to play. And we need to not only allow them the time for imaginary play, but we need to make the time to play games such as these or others with them.

'Nanna do this' says baby Avie as we walk through a rather crowded supermarket with busy shoppers on their way home from work, stocking up for dinner.

The 'this' meant sneaking quietly through the isles creeping up to surprise her dad. Needless to say it must have looked a bit odd but the reward of 'I love you Nanna' later that night after reading a favorite story for the fourth time was definitely more than worth it.

For the time starved parent of young children it's good to remember that simple games and activities played together satisfy the needs of children and make happy memories.

Other enjoyable things to do together with small children that don't take a lot of time, effort and money are building blocks ( and knocking down towers, most enjoyable); blowing bubbles ( you can purchase a bottle from toy stores or make your own); making sandcastles at the beach; cooking muffins or biscuits together; swinging from a low branch of a tree; washable water crayons in the bath; cubby houses made out of sheets or blankets; drawing with chalk on cement; cars to sit in and drive made out of cardboard boxes; hopscotch, leap frog and skipping with a rope.

Simple, easy, fun things to do with small children, bring immeasurable rewards.

Best type of play!

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Adventures with UncleWorking with Poppa
Adventures with Uncle
Adventures with Uncle | Source
Working with Poppa
Working with Poppa | Source

The Important Needs of Small Children

Physical needs
thirst hunger clothing
Emotional needs
hugs smiles praise
talking listening explaining reasoning
learning new things playing

Children's play is their work. And just as adults create, strategise and problem solve in the work place so too do children need the opportunity to develop life skills in this way. In fact not allowing children to play on their own and provide their own play to occupy themselves could be a block to their natural development.


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    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 6 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks so much for your comments - playing with or watching children or grandchildren using their imagination in play with simple household objects is so enjoyable isn't it?

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Letting imagination run free is the key to happy play for children AND adults! My 14-month-old grandson was perfectly content with nothing but a plastic colander and a couple of wooden spoons! Sometimes the colander was a drum and the spoons were drumsticks, other times a pretend helmet and "swords". Or the colander would be a face mask and he'd fall down giggling when Grandma pretended not to see him. Later, a turned upside down plastic laundry was a "fort" to hide in, or right side up, a wagon to hold his treasures while he pulled it around the house. ;D

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Playing with little kids brings the little kid out in us! We have a baby in our lives now, child of a close friend and I have so much fun being silly, getting out common household goods to use as toys.