Maybe it’s because I’m a realtor and borderline neat freak, but I never wanted my son to know play dough existed. The thought of it being smushed into the carpet or squished into tiny crevices of my furniture made me cringe.
When Leo started two-year-old preschool, his teachers introduced him to their homemade version of play dough. Just my luck, it quickly became his favorite school activity. But I loved seeing him rush to the play dough table when I dropped him off. “Play dough can be a fun little treat for school time only,” I told myself.
Then one day, Leo went to a birthday party and in the treat bag we discovered Play-Doh. “Oh, I’ll just hide this for now and give it away to someone else’s kid one day. He’ll never find it.” I told myself. But eventually, he found it. So, I started letting him play with it outside on the patio in the springtime.
One day, my mom brought some over because she read that it was great for soothing temper tantrums (and we were having plenty of those). As soon as he saw the little yellow containers, Leo’s eyes lit up. I gave in, letting him play with it on a placemat at the kitchen counter.
I still despise the smell, cleaning up the mess it makes and the way the colors mix together and turn it all brown, but I’m slowly warming up to play dough play…under close supervision, of course. Recognizing its benefits for my son is helping me overcome my silly fears.
- Creativity. At three years old, my son is all about pretend play. Play dough allows him to use his imagination and express his ideas through his creations.
- Soothing Stress and Burning Excess Energy. Kids can work out stress and calm down when they have too much energy by engaging their hands and minds in the squishy activity.
- Building Motor Skills. Working with play dough strengthens kids’ finger muscles, aiding fine motor skill development.
- Quiet Self-Play. What mom doesn’t live for a little silence? Breaking out the play dough often works as a great way to distract a child’s attention away from you and into a quiet learning activity.
So, I’m sucking it up for the benefit of my son, for now at least. But should it end up in my carpet one day…it may go back to being an occasional treat.
How do you feel about play dough? Do your kids love it?