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Parents can easily begin to feel that they are either disciplining their kids or chauffeuring them from one activity to the next, and nothing much else. It’s important to make time for some family fun!

As humans we are hardwired to play, explore, and connect with others, so being a playful parent is one good way to prepare your children for relationships. Positive experiences with parents set the stage for children to connect with others later on.

Parents can engage with children playfully while still maintaining structure, boundaries, and authority. After all, children do need to be held accountable for their behavior. Just don’t forget to have some fun. Take an interest in what your children care about, play games, act silly, tell jokes, and do whatever else might make a connection.

The more your children can enjoy the experiences they have with you and their family, the more time they will want to spend with you, and the more they will realize the value in the relationships they have. Such enjoyment also gives your children a template that will help them value relationships that are positive and healthy when they inevitably begin to grow in independence.

Strengthen the bonds you have with your kids through playful activities. Start a craft project, build a fort out of blankets and pillows, start a story and take turns adding to it, bake a pie together, and so forth. Just tap into your child’s interests, use your imagination, and have some fun!

More to consider: Playing through feelings . . .

Sometimes being playful can even shift your child’s state of mind when he or she is feeling a bit angry or defiant. Be sensitive and watch for your child’s cues to determine whether your playfulness will be received positively. Try to make a connection.