There's a saying that play is a child's form of work.
In other words, play is the catalyst a child uses to develop many of the skills they need as they learn and grow. Here is a good example:
In this photo, Little Guy is imitating Middle Guy as he vacuums the floor. Obviously, Little Guy is only pretending to vacuum, but someday it will translate into the real thing as he models the basic skills.
Play is the natural way that young children learn, and this is the basis of the behavioral program we use with Little Guy - the P.L.A.Y Project, developed by Dr. Greenspan. The basic idea is to use the non-threatening element of play to address issues and develop problem-solving skills. It's also a great way to build the relationship between child and caregiver!
Although exhausting at times, the effort has been well worth it as we're seeing increased eye contact with Little Guy, as well as prolonged engagement. In our case, play is a parent's "work" as well....but one that I do willingly :)