If play is a child’s work, then you can do your part to encourage some team bonding. Interacting with a parent while they play is important to a child’s development for several key reasons, so when you’re choosing toddlers toys, look for ones that you’ll enjoy too!
British child therapist Professor Tanya Byron has conducted years of research into the topic of cross-generational play, where both parents and kids are involved. She concluded that parental involvement at this time delivers significant physical, emotional, and social benefits. These include:
- Children who play with adults display higher levels of creativity.
- Cross-generational play helps a child develop language and problem-solving skills.
- The bond between child and parent is strengthened.
- A child who plays in the company of a parent is happier and more confident.
But it’s not just children who benefit when Mum or Dad join in with their play sessions. Professor Byron’s research also suggests that adults who engage in play with their kids often experience dramatic psychological and health benefits including reduced stress, better mood, greater cognitive skills and enhanced relationships with everyone in their family, be it with their children or their partner.
To help you and your child enjoy all of the advantages of cross-generational play, it is best to choose toddlers toys that make you work together. A collaborative project involving the building of a Lego robot, or a simple house using wooden building blocks, is ideal. Parent and child have to join forces to accomplish a goal, and this sees a need for communication and co-operation, as well as a mutual feeling of achievement when the job is done.
Many modern toddlers toys are technologically advanced and dazzle us all with their lights, and sounds, and movements. They’re incredibly well designed and manufactured, and they have a deserved place in every toy box. But for the purposes of cross-generational play, they might not be the best choice for that shared play session between parent and child. These toys tend to do everything for us – they entertain in wonderful ways but they leave nothing for the child and parent to work with. Both are relegated to the status of spectators, and there is nothing wrong with that from time to time. But when it comes to deriving the profound benefits from playing together, it’s best to use toys that encourage hands-on activity, problem-solving, creative-thinking. These toys are even better when there’s a feeling of a job well done at the end e.g. a jigsaw puzzle with every piece in place, or a colouring-in book where the outline has been completely filled in.
There is more to simple toddlers toys than you’d think. While our eyes and ears are drawn to the modern and innovative playthings now available at our leading toy retailers, it is the more basic toddlers toys that will make for a more rewarding play session between parent and child.