5 Reasons Play is Powerful
By Rebecca Desfosse of Doggone Thrifty
Play. It’s something that kids are supposed to partake in with uninhibited abandon and joy. Yet, all too often in our busy modern world, it’s forgotten and replaced with packed full schedules and to-do lists. Says one busy mom of two, “I’m constantly shuttling my kids from one extra-curricular activity to the next.” One’s got to go to soccer, the next swimming. I feel like a taxi cab, shuttling them from one place to another.” Mom’s sure stressed, but what about the kids? You can bet they’re stressed too. Kids need unstructured time to play. They should be able to run around, get dirty, slide down the tallest slide, and swing until they’re feet touch the sky. Here are just a few reasons why play is powerful:
1. Boosts physical activity.Play is active – running, climbing, jumping, and swinging are all physical activities. This kind of rough and tumble helps keep kids healthy and fit. Without this kind of active play, they’re more at risk for childhood obesity. No wonder childhood obesity has become a national epidemic. Kids just need to get outside and play – unhindered and unrestricted.
2. Builds brainpower. Along with physical health, play boosts mental health. In fact, a lack of play can actually cause developmental delays. Play is the best way for kids to learn about the world around them. Through play, kids learn cause and effect, spatial relationships, motor skills, social skills and language.
3. Develops imagination and creativity. You know when kids are deep into a pretend world of make-believe? They’re actually developing their creativity. Imaginative play encourages kids to use their mind and creative thinking. They come up with solutions to problems, explore new situations and create fantasy worlds.
4. Reduces stress. Play itself is a stress reliever. Acting silly and having fun have been proven to reduce blood pressure and increase endorphins that lead to overall happiness. Independent play offers children the opportunity to relax, unwind, and just let go. Imagine a child running carefree through the grass. Stress is the last thing on their mind and that’s just the way it should be.
5. Helps conquer challenges. Just as children use play to work through stress, they use play to work through their other emotions, like fear or self-doubt. For example, they can pretend they are a superhero and conquer evil villains. Without an outlet for these emotions, kids tend to bottle them up, which can have dire consequences for them later in life.
Giving kids free time to play is the best thing you can do for them. Playtime is often looked at as idle time in today’s fast-paced society. Yet, as you can see, play is anything but idle. It’s the best way for kids to be themselves, to learn and grow, and to be unique.