Papa Talk – Be Your Child’s Playmate

Saqeeb, our four-year-old son, has now set a new trend every time I come home. He will usually walk up to me as I am watching TV, climb onto my laps and gently ask me when I will be done with the news.

“Probably in half an hour why do you ask?” I may inquire.

As if he hasn’t heard me, he will pose another question, “And when you are done with the news, what are you going to do?”

“Take a shower, I guess,” will be my answer.

“And after that?”

“Eat my dinner.”

“After that?”

“I am not quite sure,” will be my reply as my curiosity mounts.

His face then lights up as he says: “Well in the ‘I am-not-quite-sure’ time, can you please play with me?”

That usually completely disarms me, and however tired I may be feeling, I make sure I put in some few minutes to play with him. Thereafter, whoever walks into our living room will find the two guys completely stretched out on the carpet playing with toy cars, racing on imaginary highways and interacting like two seasoned drivers would.

Saqeeb so much looks forward to this that even when I inform him that I may come home quite late, he quickly declares that he would make it a point to stay awake and wait for me! Sleep usually creeps on him like a thief, but the story that I get on arrival is usually to the effect that he valiantly tried to fight it off.

I have noticed that the play sessions do help him enhance his communication skills and also enrich his imagination.

“Parents of preschoolers have a front-row seat to some of the most imaginative theatre ever produced,” writes Mary L. Gavin, a pediatrician, on According to her, there is a lot that very young children aren’t yet able to grasp about the world around them. As a result, they ‘fill in the blanks’ and often make up their own sometimes magical explanations for how things work.

Gavin provides some simple guidelines for parents to use while helping their children play:

Go along with it. When young ones leap through the air and tell you they are flying, don’t tell them they are only jumping. Instead, feed the fantasy: “Wow, you are so high up! What can you see on the ground?”

Choose old-fashioned toys. Blocks, dolls, arts and crafts, and modelling clay are all playthings that require creativity and therefore spur imagination.

Limit electronic toys. Whether it is a handheld entertainment system or a ‘junior’ laptop, try to avoid toys that need batteries. Creativity is stifled when the toy, rather than the child, directs the play.

Read to your child. And while reading, ask mind-opening questions: “If you were the caterpillar, what would you eat?” and “What do you think will happen next in the story?” This not only encourages imagination but promotes language skills and fosters an interest in books.

Schedule downtime. Make sure children have free time every day to play on their own. Aside from encouraging creativity, it teaches them to use their own resources to amuse or soothe themselves.

Limit screen time. When children watch a movie or even an educational programme, they experience someone else’s make-believe world instead of exercising their imaginations. Some subjects on TV are not appropriate for preschoolers. Young children are also more influenced by aertising since they can’t tell the difference between commercials and actual programmes. Experts recommend that children over two years limit screen time, which includes TV, Ds, computers, smart phones, and tablets, to no more than 1-2 hours of quality programming per day.

Are you a father? What have you learnt or discovered about your youngsters and parenting? Share joys, trials, challenges, successes. Send them in 500 words to

Source : The Observer

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