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Our Playtime – changing families forever with a five minute video

parent and child Our Playtime
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“What would you say if just five minutes of your time each day could strengthen your child’s resilience and self esteem for life?”

It’s the opening line in a video that could change the families you work with forever. A five minute explanation, for a five minute structured playtime, for a lifetime of confidence in a child? It really works. Scroll down for more of the story.


Our Playtime is a five-minute video developed by the Sutherland Child and Family Interagency to demonstrate a particular structured play routine that requires parents to follow their child’s lead in play. This technique improves parent and child relationships, self-esteem and behaviour. It doesn’t cost money, it doesn’t require special skills and it only takes five minutes a day.

Our Playtime can be viewed at:

The video demonstrates to families how easy Our Playtime can be. It involves a routine of dedicated play time a day with no distractions, so the TV, mobile phones and tablets need to be switched off. This tells the child they are the most important focus. The play session requires a parent to not ask questions, to be specific in their praise and to follow their child’s lead. Any caregiver can do this!

Alison Downs, Senior Social Worker, Community Health in South Eastern Sydney Local Health District has seen the benefits with many families. “There is a great deal of behavioural and relationship evidence showing the benefits of structured play time. I’ve seen children become more focused and confident and I’ve seen family’s lives improved as a result.”

The program was inspired by outcomes in recent AEDC results for children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

I was brought in after the video was made, to promote it to parents in Sutherland and to help train up ECEC service providers and explore ways they could use it with their clients in whatever setting they have.

This turned out to be a very wide range, including case work with families, or a more general setting within a preschool. Service providers might share the video and learning at parent information nights, within their newsletters, set up a video loop in their reception or post it on their social media accounts.

One of the things we found with social media was that parents were just naturally, organically endorsing the video and sharing it with their partners, their friends, and other groups of which they were members.

Educators, in turn, said they were just so happy to have an evidence based tool – and told us that it really helped them with their families.

There were some surprises in our early journey, but none of them unwelcome.  For example, a (male) educator spoke out about the value he saw in the technique and video as a great guide for separated dads,

“They say they don’t have enough time with their kids,” he told us.

“This shows you it’s not only about the quantity of time, it’s about what you do with it.”

The same educator reminded us about how many children switch between houses during the week, creating feelings of ‘flightiness’ with each exchange. If either or both parents employ the Our Playtime technique after the exchange it is a five minute period that is really solid connection, and it helps to ground children moving between houses.

While this isn’t explicitly promoted in the video, as a parent Our Playtime is a chance to join in the fun stuff. Taking five minutes to be like a child again is just wonderful!

It can certainly be counter-intuitive, especially the instruction to parents, ‘don’t ask questions’. The thing to remember is that for all the rest of the day you can carry on as normal, but just for five minutes, the children lead the play, and the play is structured to their lead. We can certainly vouch that it is amazing the way things change as a result – there really is a shift in behaviour, a shift in the relationship.

The really impressive – maybe unique – thing is how achievable this technique of Our Playtime is.  It’s just five minutes.  Everyone can be away from their phone, their laptop, their other children, for just five minutes – can’t we?

See below the presentation shared with educators.

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