The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds.
🧩Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children.
Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.
🪁It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers. As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges.
🛼🧩🧩Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. When play is allowed to be child driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue.
🎨In contrast to passive entertainment, play builds active, healthy bodies. In fact, it has been suggested that encouraging unstructured play may be an exceptional way to increase physical activity levels in children, which is one important strategy in the resolution of the obesity epidemic. Perhaps above all, play is a simple joy that is a cherished part of childhood.
Play is all about having fun! Any activity, organized or unstructured, your child finds fun and enjoyable is considered play. But play is much more than just a fun activity for your child! As a child grows they go through different stages of play development.
Be sure to give your child plenty of time and space to play. There are 6 stages of play during early childhood, all of which are important for your child’s development. All of the stages of play involve exploring, being creative, and having fun. This list explains how children’s play changes by age as they grow and develop social skills.
Unoccupied Play (Birth-3 Months) At this stage baby is just making a lot of movements with their arms, legs, hands, feet, etc. They are learning about and discovering how their body moves.
Solitary Play (Birth-2 Years) This is the stage when a child plays alone. They are not interested in playing with others quite yet.
Spectator/Onlooker Behavior (2 Years) During this stage a child begins to watch other children playing but does not play with them.
Parallel Play (2+ Years) When a child plays alongside or near others but does not play with them this stage is referred to as parallel play.
Associate Play (3-4 Years) When a child starts to interact with others during play, but there is not a large amount of interaction at this stage. A child might be doing an activity related to the kids around him, but might not actually be interacting with another child. For example, kids might all be playing on the same piece of playground equipment but all doing different things like climbing, swinging, etc.
Cooperative Play (4+ Years)
When a child plays together with others and has interest in both the activity and other children involved in playing they are participating in cooperative play.
Play starts when we are babies, but it does not stop there! Including play in your child’s daily routine and giving them time to play is important for their development at every age. These stages are general guidelines for what to expect of your child’s play skills, but remember every child is different and if you have concerns bring them up with your healthcare provider.
Through play, parents can connect fully with their children and have fun. A parent or care can support and take part in their child’s play activities but they shouldn’t direct what happens. It’s important they give their children time, freedom and choice to play. If an adult makes all the decisions about how, what and when their child plays, the child won’t enjoy their play experiences.
Caroene Santos Murray
Clinical Psychologist - Children and adults 🌿
Perinatal and Parental Psychologist 🌿