My daughter loves LEGOs. She will sit on the floor and play by herself, dreaming up scenarios for hours. But often, she wants company. “Mom, play LEGOs with me?” she’ll ask, her arms snaking around my waist, puppy-dog eyes peering up at me. I suppress the involuntary groan. There is a handful of other things I’d rather do with her: bake, paint, play UNO. But her favorite activity is LEGOs and I know there are many benefits of playing games with my child. I want her to pursue what interests her, but a part of me shrivels up inside when she asks to play LEGOs, making me feel like the worst mom ever.
It’s not my favorite thing to do, but playing my child’s favorite game shows her I love her. But that’s not all. It also has these 5 benefits.
1. It tells kids that their interests are important.
It would be easy for me to say, “Let’s read a book together instead.” (Because really, sitting on the couch is more comfortable than building LEGOs on the floor, no matter how soft the carpet.) But by doing the activity my daughter requests, I am encouraging her to continue with her passion and I’m validating her interests.
2. It builds their confidence.
This goes along with being assertive. If she is confident that I will give her a positive response at least some of the time, she will feel better about asking for things. This will translate to the classroom, sports teams, and in other environments when speaking up confidently will benefit her long term.
3. It teaches kids to be assertive.
If I constantly say no, my daughter might not assert what she likes. She might learn to be passive and to always go along with my suggestions. Becoming assertive is something all children should learn and one of the many benefits of playing games they like with them.
Becoming assertive is something all children should learn and one of the many benefits of playing games they like with them.
You are teaching them social skills.
With a game she likes, it’s easier to teach give and take, sharing, and communication skills. When my daughter let me borrow her favorite LEGO figure, I knew she was learning an important social skill. It didn’t happen right away. But that’s OK too. Once she knew I wouldn’t mistreat her toys, she trusted me enough to share the ones she valued most. She did, however, give me a stern look and say, “Be careful with this one, Mom.” I smiled and assured her I would.
5. You have an eye into kids’ worlds and thoughts.
For a while, my daughter set up her LEGOs to go shopping in a store she created. Who knew the elves needed to buy new dragons? And the next time, new swords? I played along but got to wondering why she had so much interest in shopping lately. That’s when I realized she’d gotten it from me. Recent weekends had included trips to the store, where she’d brought her spending money to buy a new trinket here and there. I had to stop and think about whether I thought shopping should be such a big part of her life at such a young age.
You don’t have to play his or her favorite activity every day, or for hours on end, to reap the benefits of playing games with your child. A solution I’ve found helpful is to tell my daughter I will play LEGOs for 20 minutes (or another set limit) but after that, I (or we) will have to do XYZ. In this scenario, we both leave feeling satisfied.
Do you like to play your child’s favorite game? Have you seen any benefits from that time spent together?
ASK YOUR CHILD…
If we had a day to ourselves, what would you like to do together?
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