When you think of a child's development, you might think of good education, nutritious food, and a caring family. Play is likely not on the top of your list if it's on your list at all, but it should be. In this post, playing means active activities that would engage children's bodies and minds in imaginative and creative ways and not passive activities, like sitting in front of the screen playing computer or video games. Some examples of healthy, active activities are pretend plays, hide-and-seek, and board games. In this day and age, fast-paced lifestyle, family structure changes, and increased focus on academics are contributing to less free time for children to play.1 Some parents might think playing is useless or a waste of time. However, scientific studies show that play is crucial in children’s development.2 Here are some reasons why children need to play:
Strengthen “cognitive, physical, and emotional well-being of children”
Play is crucial to the development of the brain because it lets children use their creativity and imagination. By playing, they are able to make decisions, solve problems, and think for themselves. It allows them to explore the world around them, overcome their fears, and develop skills to deal with future challenges.1 Play also helps release stress, which help fortify children’s emotional well-being and reduce the risk of developing behavioral health problems.2 All these combined also lead to better academic outcomes.
Improve teamwork and social skills
Play allows children to work in groups, share, negotiate, boost confidence, solve problems, and learn how to respond to people’s feelings.1 It helps them develop social interaction skills and get along better with others.
Research shows that there is a link between decline in active outdoor play and increase in childhood obesity.2 About 18.5% of children and adolescents in the United States are obese, which increased more than three times the percentage from the 1970s when plays was more common.3,4 Obesity leads to complications such as high blood pressure and diabetes. According to Alliance for Children, doctors are warning that children today may be the first generation in two centuries to have a shorter duration of life than their parents. Active play increase children’s physical activities and therefore decrease childhood obesity epidemic.2
Discover their interests
Play allows children to explore in many different areas and discover interests without giving them any unrealistic expectations or pressure to be outstanding in each area. This would ultimately lead them to find their own passions they would like to pursue in the future.1
Open up opportunities for parents to engage with their children
Play would help build stronger bond with your children and better relationship with them. This would also give you opportunities to learn how to communicate with your children more effectively and give them nurturing guidance.1
By letting your children play and letting them be kids, it would strongly benefit them in the long run and help them become happy, healthy, and successful adults. Lastly, your pharmacist is a great resource to any questions you might have or to learn more about your children’s health and well-being.
- Ginsburg, K. R. (2007). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. Pediatrics, 119(1), 182-191. doi:10.1542/peds.2006-2697
- Miller, E., & Almon, J. (2009). Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School. College Park, MD: Alliance for Childhood.
- Childhood Obesity Facts. (2018, June 13). Retrieved August 10, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
- Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 1963–1965 Through 2011–2012. (2014, September 19). Retrieved August 10, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_child_11_12/obesity_child_11_12.htm
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