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Play complements love and work. Play is a critical piece in the complex dynamic of healthy physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development at all ages. When play, love, and work are all involved, learning and development are the most effective.

One of the best ways to encourage our children to play and develop lifelong habits of play is to share our personal passions with them. Passions are the activities we love to do, make time to do, and engage in whenever we have the opportunity.

Sharing our passions by example is important. When we share our passions by “doing” our passions, we reveal ourselves as people, and we free our children to take time for activities they are not obligated to perform. In addition, sharing passions tends to build strong family bonds and teaches socially valuable skills. Sharing our passions with children is another way to bring play, love, and work together as we parent.

When we share our passions with our children, we create the possibility for a common interest that will continue long after the children grow up. If our children see that we really love an activity, they are much more likely to take it seriously than if we take them for lessons—often paid lessons—in which we have little interest. Even if our children do not take up our passion as their own, they do have the opportunity to see us engaged in something we love and something we do for no other reason than the sheer enjoyment of doing it.

More to consider:

Parents can encourage playfulness by engaging in something enjoyable done simply for their own pleasure. Golf, gardening, fishing, jogging, walking—passions give us a creative outlet that we may not find in our jobs or professions.