For children, play is about more than fun: it is a critically important part of their development. During play children foster creativity and learn organizational skills, social skills, emotional regulation, educational concepts, critical thinking skills, and problem resolution. However, today’s children are engaging in play less than ever. Being over-scheduled with after-school activities (which means less unstructured time), having fewer safe places to play, and spending increasingly high amounts of screen time on electronic devices are all contributing factors.
Pediatricians are now emphasizing the importance of play at every well child visit and advising parents to look for quality childcare and preschool programs that include play as an integral part of learning. In addition to increasing a child’s health and development, play also provides a buffer against toxic stress and helps children build social emotional resilience. Play time provides opportunities to build positive and loving relationships between parents and children. The next time your child asks you to play, say yes! You will be helping your child master important developmental skills while having fun and reducing stress for both of you.
Submitted by Dr. Ashley Cherry, LMFT