Playful Parenting: Bringing Play to Every Day

Playful Parenting: Bringing Play to Every Day

At Minnesota Children’s Museum, we believe in the power of play. Play is how children explore the world around them, navigate relationships, nurture curiosity and find joy. This post is part of a series showcasing the seven powers of play: confidence, creative thinking, critical thinking, self-control, collaboration, communication and coordination.

The Power of Play: Self-Control

What it is:

Self-control is a child’s ability to control how they express their feelings, desires and actions in ways that are safe and productive, particularly when faced with a temptation or a challenge.

What it looks like in action:

When kids show self-control, they’re calm and focused. Self-control often can be seen in what’s not happening. Kids are not screaming or acting out. They’re not making snap judgements, but they’re engaging with the moment and adjusting as the experience evolves. Self-control can look like a child waiting patiently for their turn or taking a calming breath when they sense frustration.

“Play is the answer to how anything new comes about.” -Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologist

Why it matters:

Kids who practice self-control are more likely to have their needs met because they can express them without outbursts or meltdowns. They’re able to focus on long term goals and make short term sacrifices in pursuit of those goals. Self-control also promotes the formation of meaningful friendships because peers feel safe in their presence. And it establishes a foundation for successful school and community experiences, since kids who exhibit self-control are less likely to act in ways that lead to negative consequences.

How play helps develop self-control:

Play provides countless low-stakes challenges that self-control helps to solve: The LEGO piece doesn’t quite fit into your structure. You can’t quite get your drawing to look like your dog. Your little sister ran off with the bucket you needed for your sandcastle. Play provides a safe and fun practice field where kids can reset and try again or figure out how to ask for help. Play also rewards self-control because when kids’ bodies and emotions are regulated, the play continues and skills evolve.

At home or on the go, caregivers can enhance children’s self-control by:

  • Empowering them to choose the activity or form of play that most interests them in that moment.
  • Reflecting on how hard children work to meet everyday expectations like getting dressed, using silverware and a napkin, and cleaning up their spaces.
  • Giving them credit for their efforts without judging the outcomes.
  • Listening closely as kids express their needs and feelings, and repeating back to them what you hear to ensure understanding.

Play prompts & activities to support self-control:

  • Make simple machines
  • DIY laser maze (no actual lasers required)
  • Shaving cream painting

Powers of Play

Powers of Play

Coordination

Power of Play: CoordinationAt Minnesota Children’s Museum, we believe in the power of play. Play is how children explore the world around them, navigate relationships, nurture curiosity and find joy. This post is part of a series showcasing seven powers of play:...

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Communication

Power of Play: CommunicationAt Minnesota Children’s Museum, we believe in the power of play. Play is how children explore the world around them, navigate relationships, nurture curiosity and find joy. This post is part of a series showcasing seven powers of play:...

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Collaboration

At Minnesota Children’s Museum, we believe in the power of play. Play is how children explore the world around them, navigate relationships, nurture curiosity and find joy. This post is part of a series showcasing the seven powers of play: confidence, creative...

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Critical Thinking

At Minnesota Children’s Museum, we believe in the power of play. Play is how children explore the world around them, navigate relationships, nurture curiosity and find joy. This post is part of a series showcasing seven powers of play: confidence, creative thinking,...

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Creative Thinking

At Minnesota Children’s Museum , we believe in the power of play. Play is how children explore the world around them, navigate relationships, nurture curiosity, and find joy. This post is part of a series showcasing seven powers of play: confidence, creative thinking,...

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Confidence

At Minnesota Children’s Museum, we believe in the power of play. Play is how children explore the world around them, navigate relationships, nurture curiosity, and find joy. This post is part of a series showcasing seven powers of play: confidence, creative thinking,...

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