Play is one of the most valuable gifts we can give our kids, both as a family and on their own.
As parents, we need to encourage play. Play is necessary for healthy brain development. Kids that don’t play may end up depressed and with other health issues.
Finding time to play with kids can be a challenge if you are working, and meeting the many day-to-day challenges of getting things done.
Play isn’t optional. It’s a fundamental right of childhood.
The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognizes play as a right of every child.
Play that consists of free, unstructured time is fundamental to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children. Play establishes both the physical, mental and emotional training they will need at they grow through their young years into adulthood and beyond.
Play is the bond of love and relationship that
binds family and lifelong friends together.
Creativity assists us in finding new and innovative ways to do things and to invent new products that make our lives more productive, easier, or more entertaining.
It’s the ability to pretend and fantasize that can take people’s
minds to places where no one has gone before.
Play fosters the development of the brain’s executive function. Executive function refers to the mental skills that allow us to manage time and attention, to plan and organize, to remember details, and to decide what is and isn’t appropriate to say and do in a given situation. Allowing kids to use their imagination and participate in make-believe play gives the frontal lobe of the brain, the center of executive function, a workout.
Play helps children learn to master their emotions and to use past experiences to understand what to do in the present. These skills are central to self-control and self-discipline.
Kids who have a well-developed executive function do well
in school, get along well with others and make good decisions.
Play develops a child’s empathy skills. Empathy is the ability to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from other person’s frame of reference, i.e., capacity to walk in another’s shoes.
Kids who role-play learn to figure out what their various play actors would think about and do. This type of play where children are engaged in pretend games with others requires understanding playmates’ thoughts and feelings. A well-developed skill of empathy increases a child’s acceptance and compassion for other people and enhances their ability to play and work well with others.
Physical skills, emotional regulation, flexible thinking, the ability to get along with others and the confidence to try new things and think outside the box are all keys to being successful in life. So what can parents do to ensure their children develop these important skills?
Encourage play. Play is needed for healthy brain development.
75% of the human brain develops after a baby is born, in the years between birth and the early 20s.
Childhood play stimulates the brain to make connections between nerve cells. This is what helps a child develop both gross motor skills, such as running, walking, jumping and coordination and fine motor skills as writing, painting, drawing and detailed hand work.
Play during the teen years and into adulthood helps the brain develop even more connectivity, especially in the frontal lobe that is the center for planning and making good decisions.
Play with your kids; play helps connect family members and build lifelong friendships.
When everyone has their own personal tablet for entertainment, they don’t form the bonds with each other that come from enjoying time together.
So shut down the screens for an hour or two after dinner a few times a week. Find that old board game or that deck of cards that’s at the bottom of the toy box and play. Make it fun.
Lack of play results in kids that are not ready to function in society, suffer from lack of emotional development, can be hard to work with and are in many instances depressed and insecure, or worse yet, narcissist.
Play develops leadership skills.