Do you remember what it was like to be a child? Playing outside with friends until the streetlights came on or a spontaneous game of kickball with other kids on your street seemed like the perfect way to engage with your friends. We all had our favorite toys too. It doesn’t matter what generation you came from, and if you are like the folks at Enchanted Fairies, a magical immersive portrait studio for children, you can likely name off a few beloved toys from your youth.
We’ve all been told digital devices are here to make our lives easier but have they? Parents are more attached to their devices, there’s no escaping work. It comes home with us in our pockets, and we are at the beck and call of every ring, ding, and flashing light.
Our children don’t have it much better. Homework gets submitted through digital classrooms, more time is spent on social media than talking to parents, and the only conversations children seem to know how to have come through rapid taps and texts on a screen.
If you believe parenting in today’s digital world is much harder than it was when you were growing up, you would be among good company. According to a Pew Research Study, 66% of parents say parenting today is harder than it was two decades ago.
The reason is simple, children do not get enough time to play and simply be children. Playing with friends online and talking in chat rooms or text messages are not the same as face-to-face play. There is a loss of innocence children experience when they try to relate their digital life to their real life.
A good example of innocence lost is how technology and media translate to a girl’s life. Television, music, online games, and other types of media have sent girls the message that looking like and acting like a grown-up is where the fun is. The fashion and beauty industries have set an unreasonable standard on what is considered beautiful to young girls. They’re being sold the message that “cute” and “pretty” are out while “sexy” and “hot” are in.
Building Blocks of Cognitive Skills
The fundamentals of intellect are built through a child’s cognitive skills. Today we have a much better understanding of how important playtime is to develop skills that children will rely on throughout their life. These skills help to learn to navigate the world and the people around them.
Play teaches children about interpersonal connections, problem solving, memory, imagination, and forming judgments. Imagination opens up new worlds for children and allows them to process different situations and find solutions while building with Legos, blocks, coloring or painting gives them an opportunity to create those worlds and navigate them.
Building Necessary Social Skills
Children who are not exposed to playing with others, be it an adult or children their own age, often have trouble later forming relationships, navigating social situations, and understanding social cues.
Playing with others helps children learn to navigate conflict, listen, develop empathy, take turns, and regulate their emotions. This is also a wonderful opportunity for parents to get down on a child’s level and teach them in a loving and safe environment how to work through difficult social situations.
Encouraging a Positive Attitude
Building your child’s self-esteem and teaching them about a good mental attitude starts with spending quality time and sharing experiences with your children. Children feel far too much pressure at a young age to grow up. That pressure hurts their mental health in the long run.
Allow your child to have role models but take the time to discuss what makes them a good role model and why your child looks up to them. Encourage their hobbies in ways that make an impact on themselves and others.
For instance, a creative or inventive child might find fun in becoming an entrepreneur and starting their own business selling their creations. Regardless, it’s on us as parents to take back the quality time and build stronger bonds than what our children have with their devices.
Making time for play with our children sends them the message that they matter more than our digital devices and theirs. Teach them a classic hand-clapping game like Say Say Oh Playmate or some of the more creative rules you and your friends had to schoolyard games like foursquare the basketball favorite, P-I-G.
After all, playing only takes a little imagination, so bust out the blankets and pillows and build that living room fort or castle!
About Enchanted Fairies
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 https://enchanted-fairies.com/