Play is an important part in the development of a child’s emotional, social and physical well-being. As parents, we need give them more time to be creative.
In our time of digital age, its still shocking to me when I see kids, some as young as 2 years old, carrying tablets and smart phones and being on it for hours on end. My son included. We have to be very mindful with how much screen time he gets because if we’re not careful, hours would pass by and we wouldn’t even realize he hasn’t moved from the couch all day.
While technology is obviously the way of the future, I strongly believe that good old fashion play is necessary. Several times a week we take the kids to a local park where they can run around and release some energy before dinner time. But there are so many other reasons to enforce play into our child’s daily activity besides letting off some steam.
Here are 10 reasons why our kids need play:
- Helps build their physical, social and emotional well-being
Play is critical in helping kids learn how to get along with others, share, take turns and resolve conflicts when they arise. It also allows them to express their feelings about life and what’s going on around them.
- Promotes healthy brain development
The brain is just like the rest of our body, if we don’t exercise our brain, it will weaken. When kids are at play, they are strengthening their brain and using their mind leads to healthy brain development.
- Helps them focus, problem solve and increases their attention span
I watch as my son creates things with Legos or puts together his Power Ranger toys. He is in full concentration and determined to do it on his own. At times, I find myself offering my help (which I’m trying more and more not to do) but he tells me he can do it on his own and he does. It just takes a little bit of patience on both our parts.
- Helps to improve parent/child relationships
Get down on the floor and playing with your kids as opposed to just watching them. Not only is this a great bonding opportunity between parent and child but a way for the child to see a different side of you other than as an authoritarian and disciplinarian.
- Helps them make friends and learn how to play with others, share, and work through conflicts
Have you ever watched from a far as your kid was experiencing some sort of conflict at the play ground? I have. It takes every inch of my soul to not run and solve his problem for him. But I refrain. And when I do, I am always so proud when I see that he was able to solve the conflict himself. Kids are a lot smarter than we think and if we give them a little breathing room, they are forced to think for themselves and problem solve on their own. This is a huge life lesson for them and you’ll thank yourself when your child is a successful member of society.
- It helps them develop decision making skills and gain self confidence
When kids are playing on their own or with other kids, they are in control. They don’t have a parent telling them how to play and what to do. They are able to make decisions on their own which in turn helps them gain the self confidence they need to make bigger decisions later on.
- Helps them manage their emotions through play
I know when my son didn’t get enough physical activity when he starts becoming overly emotional about the littlest things. The other day he started crying because my husband kicked the soccer ball to him and he missed. Another time, when he spent most of his day on the iPad, he was acting out when we asked him to start cleaning up his toys. He is normally a happy and pleasant kid so when he starts giving us attitude, we know its because he is tired or didn’t get enough physical activity that day.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
This one is obvious, the more active they are, the healthier they will be. Obesity is a big problem for kids in the United States and being inactive (as well as huge meal portions) largely contributes to that.
- Relieves stress and promotes relaxation
Believe it or not but kids do experience stress as well, not just adults. Preschoolers can experience separation anxiety or as kids get older, peer or academic pressure. Childhood stress is pretty common and can lead to mood swings, acting out, loss of appetite, and even headaches and stomachaches. Play and exercise helps to release endorphins which has been proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety and boost self-confidence.
- Helps to improve their sleep
Sleep is really important for young growing bodies. Heck, it’s important to me and I’m a grown woman! When I don’t get enough sleep, I am not fun to be around! It’s the same for kids. I found this chart online that indicates how much sleep our kids need based on their age. It may shock you how much sleep they need versus how much they are actually getting.
I’m always trying to come up with new ways to entertain the kids so if you have any suggestions or ideas, please leave me a comment below!