Playing with your children isn’t just something you can do as a parent to amuse them. While the goal of simply adding more fun to your kid’s life is certainly an admirable one, that’s not all you achieve when you make playtime a priority.
Numerous experts and researchers have learned that play is also an essential component of a child’s development. The following points explain why and how. By understanding the important role fun plays (no pun intended) in your child’s life, you’ll better understand how you can give them even more opportunities to grow into healthy and happy adults.
It Helps Them Engage with the World
Play is simply one of the most beneficial ways for young children to explore the world in which they live because of its natural dynamic quality. When kids play, they use their bodies, minds, and even their emotions, all while exercising their creativity freely. Other experiences don’t allow them to express and learn about themselves in the same capacity.
For a child to be mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy from a developmental perspective, they need to engage directly with their environment. That’s exactly what they are doing when they are playing, and it may be why the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has enshrined play as a right all children are entitled to.
It Fosters Social Skills
There is absolutely value in playing without others. Children need to learn how to entertain themselves in order to succeed later in life. Additionally, playing without anyone else involved gives kids a chance to pursue their own interests, finding out who they truly are (and who they want to become).
That said, it’s still important for children to play with their parents, siblings, and friends. This is particularly crucial if a child is shy. Studies have shown that play helps shy children relate to others and develop social skills they will need in order to navigate other relationships as they grow up.
It Boosts Brain Power
It’s no secret that children are more likely to go far in life if they have strong cognitive skills. Quite simply, “smart kids” are better equipped to thrive in school, at work, and in their relationships.
This is another reason playtime is important. Studies reveal it actually improves memory and even causes the body to secrete a hormone that helps maintain brain cells. It’s also been shown that when children are allowed to take breaks and play, they find it easier to focus on academic tasks.
It Also Boosts Confidence
Play typically involves overcoming certain challenges. Even if they are having fun, a child is technically acquiring a new skill when they first learn to tell stories with dolls, or ride a bike, or win a game, or engage in virtually any other form of play at a young age.
Childhood development experts point out that this is key to developing confidence as a child. When you routinely have the experience of overcoming any new challenge, you realize that you have the ability to continue learning new skills throughout life.
On top of all this, playing with your child is an easy way to spend quality time together. Don’t forget that! While kids do need variety, getting opportunities to play with different people in different settings, they also need chances to have fun with their parents. Play offers that. The fact that it sets them up for success later in life is just another of its many benefits.