Have you ever wondered why your young child is so adamant about not sitting down to play?
No matter how much they like the toys they have, or how enticing the space you have set up for them is, they seem determined to run and jump around instead of sitting down to enjoy it.
This might seem like a simple choice for a young child to make—run and jump, or sit quietly and play—but it's actually quite complex. To understand this behavior, we need to look at what is motivating your 5-year-old in the first place.
For starters, every part of their body is brand new to them. Kids at age 5 are typically going through a phase of intense physical development. They're learning how to control their bodies, which means they're also experimenting with different ways of moving and interacting with the world around them.
This often manifests as an urge to be constantly in motion—they simply can't sit still! This behavior is not necessarily problematic—in fact, it's pretty normal for that age group. If a child is misbehaving in an otherwise safe environment, it's usually sufficient to just redirect that energy into some kind of new activity or game.
You can also try having your child take part in a sport or other physical activity (like dance, gymnastics, or martial arts) where the emphasis is on movement and discipline rather than sitting down and being quiet.
When it comes to play time, try asking your child questions about what they want to do. Listen closely to the answers and watch their body language—are they jumping up and down? Running around? If so, it may be best to let them move!
The Importance of Play
Playtime is essential for a 5-year-old's development. Play is a child's work, and it helps them develop social skills, learn about their surroundings, and discover their own bodies.
Children learn how to share, how to take turns, and how to follow rules when they play with other kids. They also learn how to handle disappointment, because they can't always win. These are all critical skills that help children develop into healthy adults.
Playtime also helps 5-year-olds practice using their bodies—which is an important part of growing up. They work on gross motor skills by running around, jumping over objects, and climbing things. They work on fine motor skills by building things out of blocks or Legos and drawing with crayons or markers. These are all important skills for children at this age to master before they move into the next phase of their lives: elementary school!
Children's imaginations will be especially active at this age—that means you might find yourself constantly being asked questions like "What if…?" or "Can I…?" Make sure that you respond positively and affirmatively to these questions. Doing so will help your child feel supported and encourage them to ask more questions, which is key for their growth right now.
Imaginative play gives children a way to use their imaginations, which is crucial for their mental and emotional development. When playing, children create stories and narratives for themselves and the things around them. They may also make up games or activities that give them a way to work through stressful situations or things that are happening in their lives.
Parents can help foster healthy playtime by getting involved in their children's play sessions. Parents can take turns making up stories with their kids or playing games they have created themselves or with friends. Playing together helps parents connect with their child and show them what healthy relationships look like.
Fun Activities for Playtime
Five-year-olds can be a handful on their own, but what about when you have to entertain them? It can feel like an impossible task.
These days, it's so simple to turn on the TV or let them play on your phone instead of using your imagination with them. But that doesn't mean you should!
Here are some fun activities for you to do with your 5-year-old during playtime:
- Arts and crafts
- Drawing, coloring, painting
- Play with play dough
- Make slime
- Make animals out of clay, let them harden then paint them
- Cut out shapes with scissors (this helps build their fine motor skills)
- Bake cookies, cakes, brownies, or really anything!
- Imagination Activities: The sky's the limit on this one, but here are some ideas:
- Pretend to be a Chef (make your own food, take turns being chef, etc.)
- Pretend to be a Doctor (give each other checkups and diagnose imaginary illnesses)
- Pretend to be an Engineer/Architect (build your own city or house out of Legos).
- Pretend to be a Teacher (set up stuffed animals in a classroom setting and teach them about something your child is learning)
- Pretend to be an animal (learn about the behaviors of different animals and act them out)
- Active Activities
- Go to the park
- Jump on a trampoline
- Climb a tree (supervised of course)
- Run as fast as they can and time them
- Create an obstacle course and see how fast they complete it
- Follow a kid’s workout video
- Take a gymnastics class
- Play any sport
We know having a 5-year-old can be crazy! Learning how to best entertain them is a process. Just remember, it’s totally normal for them to have more energy during this phase of development. Be patient with yourself as you try out some of these activities to ensure that your child is becoming well-rounded in all parts of their life. Good luck!