Five tips on empowering children through play

Playing is one of the primary forms of interaction with children and is fundamental for their development. It is the tool through which children learn about the world around them and it is essential for the consolidation of their skills and relationships.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Ilaria Perini, educator at Un Villaggio per Crescere (A Village for Growth), a project coordinated and promoted by Centro per la Salute del Bambino (Centre for Child Health), one of The Human Safety Net’s partners in Italy. Ilaria shared with us a few tips on how we can use playtime to enhance and accompanying our children’s development.

Ilaria warned that, as we age, we tend to distance ourselves from the magical world of play. We become detached from its simplicity because we are used to more elaborate, mediated, and complex interactions. Children, on the other hand, can help us to reignite these mechanisms. Their curiosity extends to even the most basic aspects of life.


Here are Ilaria’s five tips on how to best use playtime:

  1. Establish a safe environment for children, ensuring they feel encouraged to explore and experiment without fear.
  2. Incorporate everyday items into play, such as a basket filled with pasta, buttons, or assorted materials, transforming them into a treasure trove of possibilities.
  3. Avoid overly complex toys, as simplicity often fuels a child's imagination and sustains their interest longer than elaborate alternatives.
  4. Monitor and address any undesirable behaviour that may arise during playtime, while also actively encouraging and reinforcing positive conduct.
  5. Fully engage in the role and immerse yourself in the game, embracing the opportunity to reconnect with your inner child and foster a deeper connection with the children you're playing with.

In conclusion Ilaria gave us the overarching and ultimate tip: “Allow yourself to reconnect with your inner child, even for a moment. By doing so, you can fully engage in play with them, immerse yourself in their world, and create precious memoriestogether. Sometimes, it can be challenging find time to play; each of us must deal with the difficulties of everyday life, made up of so many demands and worries, but spending quality time with our children can make a huge difference to their growth and development, to the strength and joy of the relationship with them”.

Centro per la Salute del Bambino is a non-profit founded in 1999 to guarantee all children equal opportunities for cognitive, emotional, and social development from birth. Its project Un Villaggio per Crescere provides a space where children aged 0-6 and their families can meet, spend time together and do different activities, including reading, music, artistic expression, and infant massage. Experts in childhood development have chosen these activities to support the development of the little ones and strengthen their relationship with adults.

Photo credits Giuliano Koren