Every parent remembers what it was like to be a child. We all had games and toys we loved to play with, and some of our best memories consist of riding our bikes until the streetlights came on, skipping rope, or a pick-up game of kickball in the backyard. Unfortunately, our lives have become overscheduled and dependent upon our digital devices (or so we think).
But what if we took our recall of our own favorite games and experiences and shared them with your children - and even joined them in their fun and games? After all, children aren't the only ones who feel overwhelmed and stressed by the demands of the devices in front of our faces. By sharing our own memories with them and helping them build new experiences and lasting memories of their own, we can begin to revolutionize the way we parent, and how our children play.
Simple Play, Big Benefits
66 percent of parents say parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago. The biggest reason, they said, is that screens and digital devices are replacing face-to-face fun. Sure, children can connect with their friends online and play together but something gets lost in the process, the innocence of childhood.
Girls, especially, are starting to be exposed to a slew of unreasonable beauty standards that would have been unthinkable to us parents when we were young. Children as young as 11 years old no longer are content with being "cute" and "pretty;" instead, they want to be "hot" and "sexy." As a parent, that's terrifying to me - and it should be to you!
Though screen time does have its benefits, parents and children are missing out on valuable skills that don't require batteries or portable chargers. Taking back playtime is an amazing first step.
Building Intellectual Development
When we use our imagination, we become open to the notion that anything is possible. Creative thinking skills are built along with problem solving, and other necessary executive functioning skills. Play through make believe help children process situations and find solutions. Drawing, coloring, and building with blocks or Legos can craft elaborate worlds or wonderful fairy tales.
Building Social Development
Playing with others teaches children how to negotiate, understand social cues, listening, and how to regulate their feelings. Even if your child is playing with you and not other children, it's an opportunity to teach these skills in a safe and loving environment.
Play Time is Family Time
No one is going to disagree and say parenting through the pandemic hasn't been difficult. If there is anything positive that we've learned through this experience, it's that families had to re-learn how to spend time together. It's equally important to keep that energy going even well after the world re-opens; your children are still your children, and they will still benefit from your attention and some old-school playtime no matter what.
Fostering Positive Mindsets
Not only are kids feeling burnt out on their devices - and who isn't, honestly? - but they're also likely feeling the increased pressure brought on by social media. Especially for young girls, the influx of influencers and beauty gurus on platforms like Instagram and TikTok can often cause huge hits to their self-esteem.
That's why investing in quality time and experiences with your children is so important to checking in on their mindsets and their mental health. There's nothing wrong with looking up to other people, but when your kids start comparing themselves to the airbrushed false reality that runs rampant on social media, that's when you need to step in.
Invest time and energy regularly in activities that boost your child's self-esteem and keep you connected to one another. Tapping into your child's interests and unique passions is a huge part of this. If your son is a budding entrepreneur, why not put that spirit toward a lemonade stand or a small craft shop on Etsy? If your daughter loves makeup, steer that hobby away from the oversaturated-with-ads corners of the internet and take yourselves on a shopping spree to Target or Ulta.
Remember: it's not so much about the money you're spending as it is about the time you're putting into caring for your children and their mental health. If the last year has taught us anything, it's that you don't need to shell out for expensive vacations or experiences to enjoy your children.
It's on us, and parents everywhere, to continue to keep playtime an integral part of a child's wellbeing. By building a regular playtime routine without screens or devices, our children won't roll their eyes at our "old school" games because our retro fun will become a part of our children's memories as well.
About Aileen Avikova
Aileen Avikova is a mother, wife, and co-founder of Enchanted Fairies, a luxury fine art portrait studio that provides a magical, immersive experience for children of all ages. They have donated over $1 million dollars to children's charities nationwide. To learn more about the Enchanted Fairies experience, visit their website.
© 2021 ParentHerald.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.