Get to know your child through play


Play provides a beautiful opportunity for you as a parent to step back and observe your children through a lens of wonder and discovery. It offers you the opportunity to listen to the stories of your children, to hear the stories your children tell, and to take notice of all the amazing things that make your children who they are. Play provides a window into the heart, mind, and spirit of your children. When you take time to quietly observe your child immersed in their own creative and imaginative world of play, you come to know just a little bit more about who they are as a human being.


As we all know, it can be challenging to find time to slow down enough to listen ~truly listen to what children are saying. It can be difficult to make the decision to stop what we are doing in order to intentionally observe our children as they play. How many times have we watched children play without being attentive to what was actually going on?

The beautiful thing about play is that it is a big focus in the lives of our children. With that, we find endless entry points and moments throughout the day to become better observers. Depending on our own day, we can decide to commit a few moments of time to observe our children at play or we can choose to settle in with a cup of tea and a cozy blanket for some extra bonus time. Although moments do pass, we can’t always (and don’t need to) spend every moment observing our children. The great news is that it’s never too late to grab hold of a moment, even if it’s short and sweet.


Observing your children engaged in play helps you discover the lens through which your children see the world. Observing play is an opportunity for you to better understand what your children are thinking, feeling, wondering, and dreaming. Embracing play by creating room in your life for it, a space in your home to enjoy it, and the opportunities to connect to it are just some of the ways play helps you to come to know your child.


How do we listen? Are we multitasking, hearing the television, supervising our children, reading our devices, or speaking with someone on the phone? At any given time, we can be doing several of these things interchangeably. Therein, lies the challenge. How do we find time enough to listen; to stop what we are doing and pay careful attention to what our children are saying both verbally and non-verbally.

Oftentimes, what our children reveal to us non-verbally reveals as much if not more than they reveal verbally. We notice the complexity of their emotions, their highs and lows, their viewpoints and perspectives. These feelings are sometimes greater than their vocabulary at any given time and with that comes the challenge of effectively and appropriately communicating what they are feeling and thinking.

It is through play that children find the opportunity to explore the complexity of what it means to be human, share in relationships, explore emotions, and navigate their day. Through dramatic play, children may act out their feelings or explore what they might do in particular situations. It is common for children to mimic or create imagined or familiar scenarios while working through their own perceptions of their imaginary and real worlds. Whether happy, sad, angry, or frustrated, a plethora of emotions can be revealed by children when they play. It is through careful listening that we come to know our children more deeply.

At times, life for children can present social, emotional, physical, intellectual, moral, or spiritual challenges. As we listen to children playing we become better able to hone in on their non-verbal communications. We can begin to recognize some of the signals our children make as they navigate what can sometimes be challenging moments. Showing empathy, seeking clarification, and offering support can make a difference in how children move through these moments. Without careful listening, we might miss these opportunities. Play provides us the chance to discover some of the deeper layers that make our children who they are.


Observing your child in their play gives you the opportune gift of capturing the story of your child. Careful and intentional listening will help you hear what it is children are sharing with the world. Taking pictures of particular moments, writing down what your child says, and including your own interpretation of the moment is a wonderful way to honour and celebrate the story of your child.

For when we take time to be present in any given moment, short or long, we tell our children that they matter. Sitting off to the side quietly capturing the everyday moments of the day is something we can do that grows in value. For when these moments have come and gone, and when our children are no longer little, we will join our grown children, and their children and hold dearly to the memories we had once captured. It is through the story of the child that we bring to the world the gift of their being; a precious gift, unique to that one special child ~ yours.

With gratitude for your time, I welcome you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.


Founder ~ Nurtured Inspirations


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