Kid Connection Tip: Play!

Posted May 14, 2015 by jimhigley



You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation. – Plato

I couldn’t agree more with Plato.

Play is the golden ticket for connection – and fun – between parents and kids.

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But what I’ve learned is it’s tougher to execute the older children get. Mom and dad become the bystanders cheering on the sidelines. The chauffeurs.

When my youngest was about 10, his schedule mirrored that of many kids his age. Get up early. Have breakfast. Load up his backpack. Wait for the bus. And then off he was until after school – when he grabbed a little downtime before he was off to  practice for baseball, football, basketball – or a host of activities that overtook our calendar throughout the year.

By the time he finally arrived home for the night, he was lucky to squeeze in a five-minute dinner warmed up in the microwave before he grabbed a couple hours of homework.

Then bed.


And the little guy I used to spend hours and hours with – tossing the ball in the backyard or pushing on a swing – had no time for me.


One morning while we were having  breakfast, we were discussing his basketball team.

“Did you play basketball in grade school?” he asked me.

“Naw. I stunk,” I confided. “And your uncles used to clobber me at H-O-R-S-E, too.”

Then came the challenge from him.

“Come on,” he said to me as he grabbed his backpack and ran towards the door. “We’re playing H-O-R-S-E.”

And a new daily tradition began: squeezing in five minutes of playtime every school day morning – while we waited for the bus. H-O-R-S-E eventually evolved into one-on-one fun. And while my basketball skills didn’t improve much since I was little myself, it didn’t matter.

I was connecting with my son. Every morning.

And it was fun.

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Play time with your kids will vary throughout their life – and should include activities that can continue (and as you age!) throughout their life. I still keep a pile of board games – Risk, Clue and Monopoly – visible on our family room shelves. They’re ready and waiting at a moment’s notice.

As are our family’s favorite: a deck of playing cards.

Remember those? 


This memory is part of a series of stories I’m sharing during the months of May and June – highlighting the importance of connecting with our children. These memories are brought to you by the wonderful folks at Kimberly-Clark who have compensated me for my writing. All opinions are my own. 

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