How Do I Learn To Play With My Child?

7 Steps To Being A Better Parent

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This is a guest article by Allison Marlowe, founder of Allison Marlowe Ltd coaches, inspires and challenges women in business to achieve new levels of success. She can be contacted at

Q. My husband had a very turbulent childhood and as a consequence finds it difficult to know how to ‘play’ or interact with our children – are there any books/courses/people that could help him to gain more skills and confidence?

A. It may come as a surprise but many parents never really had the opportunity to play as a child and therefore don’t instinctively know how to help their children to play either.

There are a vast number of circumstances available in which play can take place. Sophisticated and expensive toys are not required, but what is vitally important is a commitment of time from a parent. The most effective role an adult can take is to follow the child’s ideas and activities.

Some parents manage to turn play into teaching. They become the ‘expert’ telling the children how to do everything so that play turns into a series of commands, questions and criticisms. The easiest way to avoid doing this is to simply describe what you see your children doing.

A suggestion here is to try giving a running commentary on what you see the children doing, or adding sound effects, for example to accompany what the child is doing (e.g. animal noises). At first this may seem artificial and not very natural, but giving a running commentary like this is extremely rewarding to the child because it gives them real attention.

You can’t give a running commentary unless you are watching and listening to your child intently. Attention is the most precious thing children need and seek most of all, we all feel valued and cared for when someone listens to us and this is exactly what you would be doing for your children here.

One book I highly recommend is The 7 Day Parent Coach: Halve the Stress, Double Your Energy and Become a Great Parent by Lorraine Thomas which has an excellent chapter on creating more time to enjoy your family.

More Articles by Allison Marlowe

About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!

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