“Children don't need more things. The best toys a child can have is a parent who gets down on the floor and plays with them.” — Bruce Perry
It’s the times that I’ve played with my kids where I can literally see their hearts smile and not necessarily the times where I have bought toys or presents.
I call the happiness derived from toys and presents ‘flash in the pan’ happiness- it rarely lasts much beyond the unpacking. It certainly brings them momentary joy but it’s a habit that I have found not to be sustainable or fulfilling for either them or myself.
I promise you this dads: The only thing they want is OUR presence…. And perhaps to give us the occasional makeover.
Having two daughters I have had my fair share of home day spa’s, make up tutorials, manicures, pedicures and hair colouring, styling and glamourising. What I know for sure is that it’s a phase they grow out of. So while today it’s make up with my six year old on the floor, I know/hope that the time spent with her will evolve and transpire to other interests as she gets older.
The getting on the floor and playing with them principle is the same at any age I guess and a metaphor for meeting our children at the level that they are at.
I have found that when kids are little and can’t quite articulate or regulate their feelings they don’t come out and say, “Hey Dad, I need to talk to you. I need to be with you. Today was tough!”
What they do say, is “Play with me.” And what they are really asking is ‘Do I matter to you’?
When I make time to play with my kids it:
-Gives them a place to communicate with me.
-Releases their anxiety.
-Helps increase their confidence and self-esteem.
-Releases oxytocin in their brain
But above all it says I’m with you kiddo, I see you and you matter to me more than my work or my phone or whatever else I may be distracting myself with.