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When did we become the audience to our children's play? We are always encouraged to get on the floor with our babies and play with them, and many of us have done just that. But at some point, we seem to forget how to really play with our children and just why it is so important. A recent study found that one in five parents say they have forgotten how to play with their children, with a third of the parents saying that taking part in games and activities with one's family is boring. More than half the children questioned in the study said they want more quality time with their parents, but, surprisingly, not with the video games their parents have purchased.

The study concluded that play is in danger of becoming a lost art for families, with 21 percent of parents admitting they no longer remember how to participate in child's play and struggle with how to engage their children in creative and imaginative activities. How many parents spend even half an hour engaged in daily active play with one's children? Studies show that while American children spend nearly eight hours a day engaged in some form of media: television, computers, iPhones, and video games, parents say they spend less and less time with their children including meal time. Sort of makes you wonder who is really raising your child, eh? You see, whoever your child spends the most time with is most likely the one who gets messages of morality or immorality, fidelity or infidelity, honesty or dishonesty across to him. Is it possible the television and computer game people are raising your child? They KNOW what an immature person wants to see, and they make it available to him or her. It is your job to make sure that what they watch and do is appropriate; therefore you would be raising your child, otherwise….

Play not only is passing adults by, but they are also in danger of raising children who don't know how to play. Play is a social experience where children learn to give-and-take, wait one's turn, recognize others' contributions, all typical kindergarten techniques for getting along. It can be considered a process of self-esteem and self-image building, learning through play. However, our teens are playing less and less together while engaging in solitary activities, although it seems like they are actually engaged with one another. For instance, teens send an average of 3,339 texts a month, engaged with someone they cannot see or touch, according to the latest study. Children are plugged in to devices most waking hours of the day and night. Structured activities, lessons, and practices take up the rest of their time. It has been known that some children are required to complete their homework and eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner while in the car traversing to their next violin or dance lesson or league game. "Who has time for play," these parents ask. We are too busy? It used to be that meal time was the one time parents could sit and converse with their children, now even that opportunity is being thrown aside!

Your child is who he is because of the way you interact with him. Be involved, regularly: play cards, take a walk, throw a ball, read together, play with Lego's or Tinkertoys, make a house out of cards, or play dominoes. Do anything that will offer your child a sense that you enjoy being with him. He will think that since you like him, he can do the same. Your child can become a likeable person, all because you took the time to play with him, REGULARLY. Your being physically and emotionally close to your child is necessary, and you can do this through regular episodes of play. Conversely, ignoring your child sends the opposite message. Not one he will openly tell you he understands, but he will express it through his mis-behavior. We have to learn to take responsibility for the child's behavior, no matter which way it goes.

Take time to involve your child in your life and you in his. Be attentive to what he expresses interest in and go with that. You have the means to help your child get motivated to follow creative pursuits and develop positive self-esteem through play. This requires a plan that is imposed by the parent: Let's go to the museum, hit golf balls, the zoo, the park, the street faire, sea world, the aquarium, the library, the bookstore. ANYWHERE besides the front end of the television or the computer.

Start investing time in your most valuable commodity, your child. Through play, you create a relationship. A relationship that becomes a template for your child that allows him to understand how you and everyone will see him. You see, play is not really just play, but a creative process to build your child's developing self-esteem in a very positive and enduring way. You can be the engineer of your child's future. Now, just go play.

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