As a therapist trained in play therapy, I know a lot about the power of play in a child’s development and well-being. It is proven, it is documented, it is research backed. Despite this fact, the idea that play holds the key to a child’s learning, development, and mental health is a concept most parents are skeptical of when they come into my office with their child.
I want to make you a believer.
Here are just some of the amazing skills research tells us, that children learn and acquire through play.
8. Good mental health. The more time children are engaged in play and interacting with the world around them, the more likely they are navigating their inner emotional life and learning life skills (and the less likely they are to be in front of a screen).
9. Language development. Parent-child play models the basic concepts of communication and conversation.
10. Reading. Wordplay and storytelling build the foundation for learning to read.
11. Self-control. Board games serve as an opportunity to practice turn taking and staying on task with rules.
12. Memory. When play involves movement it promotes learning and memory, as the body is a tool of learning. The more movement a child receives, the greater their attention span.
13. Motor development. Drawing, painting, dancing, singing, climbing… all establish both fine and large motor skills.
14. Cognitive development. Constructive and dramatic play give opportunities to work on many different cognitive skills such as perspective taking, abstract thought, and higher-level cognition.
15. Physical health. When kids play, they learn reflexes, motor control, develop fine and gross motor skills and increase flexibility and balance.
16. Growth mindset. When play is undertaken without consideration of the outcome a child is allowed to focus on the process and the concept that they can always build on current skills.
17. Self-understanding. When children have the freedom to direct their own play, they are able to put their own thoughts, feelings, and imaginations out into the world, gaining a greater perspective on their own inner lives.
18. Spatial skills. Building and construction play encourages a child to test spatial relationships and mentally rotate objects in the mind’s eye.
19. Attention. When your child plays, the limits of the world that constrain possibilities are removed. Play simply allows your child’s innate creativity to flourish as they explore limitless possibilities.
20. Curiosity. Curious children have been found to have better memories and better academic performance and play. Engaging in the exploration of natural surroundings including toys and games, makes space for curiosity to flourish.
Allowing the power of play to unfold.
As I sat biting my tongue in the front seat, I listened as my daughter spoke to her unicorn.
“It will be ok Sparkles. I know you are going to miss me at camp but I am going to have so much fun!”
It didn’t stop there.
“If you are feeling sad you can ask for a hug or have my mom write a note for you. I know you can be brave. Mom, sparkles is feeling nervous about camp.”
Cue the parental affirmations (finally!).
Once again, lesson learned. Sometimes parents need to sit back and let the power of play take over to heal and grow our child.
Once you master the sitting back part, you will be amazed at what you will see.
When have you noticed play having a positive effect on your child?
About the Author…
Clinical Psychology Associates Very Own, Angela Pruess, MA, LMFT:
I’m Angela and I have been supporting children and parents as a licensed family therapist for 12 years now. I have a background in Child Psychology and Family Studies. My more impressive credentials however, are that of parent of three and special needs parent to two of those. I’m wading through the waters of parenthood right along with you, some days trying desperately to hang on to a life preserver.
Parenting can get complicated. I want to de-mystify why kids do the crazy crap they do, and help you to react to it in a way that leaves you and your child better off as a result. I want to support you through the hardest times, because I know you are trying your darndest to raise a great person to send out into this world. I want to give you information on child development and behavioral science, so you can be informed enough to know that despite what it seems- your child truly isn’t on a lifelong mission to torture and confuse you.
I am honored you are here and hope both you and your unique child will be loved and supported through our community.
For more about Angela, please visit her on the web at: https://parentswithconfidence.com