This blog often focuses on the importance of play in a child’s development. Children who have opportunities to play often perform better academically, have stronger social ties throughout life, and are more likely to develop executive functioning skills at an early age.
It’s essential that parents remember this. However, focusing on the benefits of play is merely one step. To truly understand why you should let your kids have safe, healthy fun whenever possible, you also need to know what can happen if they don’t.
Here are a couple of the potential consequences of not having adequate playtime:
Struggle with Anxiety & Depression
Sadly, researchers have found that play is on the decline in many parts of the world. More and more children have busy schedules that don’t permit them to let loose and have fun as often as children from earlier generations.
This has been associated with a rise in anxiety and depression among young people. Researchers believe that not spending enough time playing simply prevents children from learning to effectively cope with life’s stresses. On the other hand, children who do play are given an outlet for their worries, helping them avoid mental health problems later in life.
Turn to Crime
No parent wants to imagine their child will grow up to be a criminal. Unfortunately, a review of major studies indicates that children who don’t play often during their youth are more likely than others to engage in criminal behavior as teens or adults.
This starts to make sense when you consider the role play fills in life. Play is what we turn to when we need stimulation. Although the specific nature of play changes as we get older (a kid might enjoy tag, you might enjoy taking a fitness class), the same general principle applies consistently. People who learn to find stimulation in positive ways during childhood will also do so during adulthood.
Those who do not may find their stimulation in criminal activities. This is another major consequence of play deprivation.
Have Low Confidence
Experts also point out that play helps children develop confidence. Again, it’s relatively easy to understand why.
Playing frequently involves working towards some type of goal. Through play, children learn they have the power to solve problems and leverage their abilities in positive and healthy ways. This, in turn, helps them develop self-confidence.
Children who don’t play often lack those opportunities. This may cause them to struggle with low confidence and self-esteem as they grow up. Because they had fewer chances than other kids to explore and build their abilities, they are less sure of their own true worth.
The most important point to remember is that these consequences are totally avoidable! Your child doesn’t need to struggle because they didn’t play often enough. All you have to do is make fun a priority. When a child is playing, they aren’t wasting time. On the contrary, they’re participating in an essential activity, one no parent should deprive them of.