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Importance of play in childrens mental health

Importance of play in childrens mental health

23 Apr 2022


Play for children is often overlooked and not seen as an important element of their day. However, play is crucial for both their mental and emotional development, it also helps them to develop healthy social skills and to manage anxiety and stress. Nowadays children are so much more open and aware of day to day stressors. This stress can come from their home life if there are any family issues taking place, school can also be stressful for them as they could be struggling with their school work, making friends or getting bullied. Health issues and trauma also have a significant negative impact on children's mental health. On average children are playing 8 hours less a week compared to children in the 1980s. This will have an effect on both critical thinking and creative skills. 

How does play reduce stress and anxiety?

Not getting enough playtime alone is affecting children's emotions and mental health. Poor routine and overexposure to screen time are also contributing factors. This lack of activity will increase anxiety, stress and depression. Play will help to reduce stress in some of the following ways: 

  • Gaining control: When children are given their own independence to be imaginative and come up with ideas through play it gives them a sense of control and helps them to build confidence. 
  • Problem solving and building resistance: Playtime should be a safe place where children are encouraged to try something new and overcome challenges. 

  • Develop emotional and social skills: When children play together they learn how to communicate and share along with developing social-emotional skills such as compassion and empathy, how to work through conflict and develop self-control. 

  • Discover what interests they may have: Independent play allows children to be themselves and to explore what interests them. This will him them to discover themselves whilst also sparking them with curiosity. 

  • Strengthen relationships: When parents play with their children this creates a special bond and builds a lifetime of memories whilst strengthening their relationship.

  • Happiness: When children play it gives them a sense of joy and happiness in their little world.

Benefits of outdoor play for children

As previously mentioned children are spending a lot of time on devices looking at screens on laptops, Ipads, tablets and phones which is causing them to have a more sedentary lifestyle and consequently a severe negative impact on their mental health and overall wellbeing. Outdoor play has many benefits for improving children's wellbeing both physically and emotionally. 

  • Improved motor skills: Outdoor play helps children to improve their coordination, balance and agility as well as challenging their muscle, bone and physical endurance. 

  • Lower body mass index: Children who spend more time playing outside are less like to suffer from obesity because they are more energetic. 

  • Improved overall health: Children who spend more time outdoors have a healthy lifestyle and better sleeping patterns. 

  • Greater self-awareness: Being outdoors teaches children how to few the world from a different perspective which develops observation and reasoning skills. 

  • Improved relationships: Children who play outside are more self-aware and develop an awareness of others' feelings and emotions. 

  • Aids in brain development: When children are outside playing they are creating their own reality by taking in the environment that is around them.

You can see from the list of benefits how important outdoor play is for your child. To find out more about Timberplays products you can visit our product page here for more information.