Last updated on Jan 31st, 2021 at 12:42 am

Playful parenting is a parenting style that encourages parents to play with their children – to engage with your child in a more joyful and creative interaction. This form of parenting is encouraged in order for parents to foster close bonds with their children.

It is quite tempting to allow children to play independently. But there are amazing benefits to playing with your child. Play is a powerful tool children use to navigate the world and to learn. We can also use that same tool to see the world through their eyes and learn as they do.

Lawrence J. Cohen is a Play Therapist and author of the book Playful Parenting. The book opened a different realm of parenting for a lot of parents and empowered them on how to best connect with their children.

So, how does playful parenting help parents raise successful children?


Like adults, children also face challenges of confidence and self-esteem. Playful parenting can help children overcome this challenge. By simply allowing children to win, you can instil a sense of self-esteem. It’s not only about winning, but also about your child engaging in play with a person that is older than them. That alone helps them develop confidence and self-esteem.

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ALSO SEE: How to build your child’s confidence

The ability to express complex emotions

According to the Lego Foundation “pretend play between a parent and a child is an ideal space to discuss feelings and practice reasoning”. Children cannot understand emotions and therefore struggle to express them. Therefore, playing with your child will help him express themselves better than they would under normal circumstances.

Breakthrough shyness, anger, and fear

Children who play with their parents are happy and they laugh, and laughing is always the best medicine. It can, therefore, help children release anger, anxiety and any other painful emotions. Even in our adult lives, we still use laughter to aid us in navigating awkward and extremely painful situations. Children can learn the same.

ALSO SEE: Helping young children manage anger

Playful parenting can foster respect

Children respect adults because they are told to, and because they are older than them. They particularly respect adults that crawl on the floor with them and get dirty. So, playful parenting fosters a culture of respect for their parents. Children that respect their parents are better equipped to do well in different aspects of their lives.

Children feel safe and wanted

Spending playful time with our children is a way of communicating to them that we enjoy spending time with them. This makes children feel wanted and loved. This is also a wonderful way of helping kids build confidence. A child that knows they are secure in their love with their parents can take on anything. Feeling wanted is not only a feeling adults yearn for. Children also want to be chased around the yard and be pursued. This makes them feel safe and wanted.

Raising kind and thoughtful adults

Cohen emphasises that we need to fill our children’s cups with affection, security, and love. We cannot do this by standing on the sidelines and managing our children during playtime. If your child’s cup is overflowing, they are less likely to have behavioural issues. The love and affection children get from the person they look up to (mom or dad) plays a role in them becoming thoughtful and kind adults.

Helps with connection and re-connection

What better way to connect with your child than to descend to their level and see the world from their perspective? This means that you are genuinely and purposefully engaging in their world and learning about their world. This creates strong bonds between children and parents. This helps children develop their emotional and social skills. A healthy relationship with your parents forms an important foundation for children. This relationship lays the foundation for your child’s personality, life choices, and their overall behaviour.

Empower themselves and respect diversity

Playful parenting helps children make sense of the world with the guide of their parents. This can help empower children. This happens through creative and imaginative play. Even more so when they can do this with you.

Fosters important cognitive skills

Children can learn cause-and-effect by playing with their parents, and this is an important cognitive skill for them to learn. Children can learn what certain musical instruments can do, or certain toys, by observing their parents play with them. This builds their cognition, and this can happen very early on in their lives if you participate in playtime.

ALSO SEE: 8 cognitive activities for toddlers

Learning social skills

The Lego Foundation notes that mutual exchanges and interactions during playtime between children and parents help children build neural connections. This helps with developing strong communication and social skills very early on in their lives. This means that children will be able to pick up on different social cues, and can use this even in their adult lives.