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Cultivating Happiness in Children


What makes kids happy? An Associated Press poll found that kids ranked spending time with family above having money or things. When parents understand that play is the work of children they may find that their child’s play reflects the world in which they are living which means it has ups and downs and good and bad things happen. Parents might not know that these dramas that are played out don’t have to be changed, but only observed at first.  The time young children spend in creative pursuits will pay off in later years. Research has supported the theory that imaginative play will help them develop lifelong coping skills.

When parents know how to engage in creative play with their kids, they are actually helping them learn how to cope when their child has had a bad day. Listening carefully, and joining in the play while letting the child direct actions can be very beneficial to them.

Your child may take a blanket to be a pool of water one minute and a roof of home the next. What they believe in their imagination can lead them to try new experiences. And often there is no risk in the trying.   With a little help from their ability to dream and create new worlds, children can try on various roles and situations. It doesn’t take much for a parent to encourage their child to play and expand their play into imaginative realms. When they do, they are encouraging positive skills that develop resilience, expanding emotions through role play, and helping them find alternative solutions to problems.

Here are some tips to help parents encourage creative play

  • Allow time for free play
  • Respond to and interact with children when they are playing, but remove themselves when the children are totally absorbed in their play
  • Praise children when they exhibit creativity and imagination
  • If children have trouble getting started, give them some suggestions
  • If children are not good at making something, help them by making an example.