Join in and play

Be sure not to change the play. Try to play the way your child enjoys playing. You can join in by:

  • doing what your child is doing – Copy what your child does with his toy. Sarah’s mom noticed that Sarah was hugging her doll, so she did the same thing with her own doll.
  • helping your child do what he is doing – If your child is gathering cars to put through the car wash, help him collect cars.
  • making a comment about what you or your child are doing – Sarah’s mom made a comment about her own actions by saying “Shhh…the baby’s sleeping”. She also commented on Sarah’s actions, saying “Oh, your baby is sleeping too”.

Once you’ve joined in your child’s play, you need to wait to see what your child will do next. This allows you to ensure that your child is still having fun and is motivated to continue. If you keep playing in this way, you will end up taking turns back and forth with your child, and your child will have fun while learning new ways to play with his favourite toys. By following your child’s lead, you can ensure that it’s fun when you play together, not work.

Excerpted from Pretend Play Should Be Fun, Not Work!, Hanen Centre