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Why Playing is Necessary

Rhain Toussaint, SSCFC Student Intern

“While I am happy to see my child smiling, is there a point to them playing around in therapy”. This thought has probably came up once or twice when taking your child to a counseling session. To you it might be playing around but for children, playing is more than building a fort, smashing G.I Joes together or jumping rope. Playing has numerous amount of health benefits from reducing stress, fear, anxiety, and irritability to increasing levels of compassion and improving non-verbal skills. Playing provides an opportunity to allow children to develop their sense of self. Playing also is a method to gain and build coping skills, strengthen one’s abstract thinking and problem solving. Playing has the opportunity to strengthen child development and improve social relationships. According to the article, Play in Children’s Development, Health and Well-Being, Active play that involves running, jumping, climbing keeps children physically healthy while discovering  their environment. This helps prevent obesity, depression, stress and other negative effects.

Through the act of play, children weave a story and sometimes it is about themselves. This activity enables a child to express their feelings, show what happens during their daily lives and visualize their dreams or fears. A mental health professional can learn a lot about what is occurring in a child’s life just by watching them play. One can learn what areas a child struggles or excels with or how they are doing emotionally, physically and mentally. Most think playing is just a waste of time but play allows a child to expand and share their world with others.

Just like vegetables can help with your child’s physical development, different types of toys and games promote and establish different skills. At an early age,  blocks, Legos, puzzles, and other toys grow spatial, language, decision making, creativity, attention span, memory, and motor skills. Playing can also stimulate brain growth, increase emotional intelligence and so much more. Toys that encourage children to share or cooperate with others is called social play, so your child wanting you to participate in activities such as tea parties teaches them how to interact with others. Altogether, toys help boosts amusement and expand play, so make sure you have variety for your child to choose from so they can have an array of techniques.

Play can be beneficial for a better quality of life. If children are not given the opportunity to play, it affects their daily and future lives. According to the article, Play in Children’s Development, Health and Well-Being, those who are not playing daily are at risk to suffer from poor physical health and mental health issues later on in life. Those who do not play at all suffer from not developing at the same rate as other children either emotionally, mentally, and/or physically.  Make sure that you are are aware that play overall and in therapy is a helpful tool in your child’s development. And, remember you can always join in on their play sessions when necessary.

Reference:

Goldstein, J. (2012). Play in Children’s Development, Health and Well-Being,. Retrieved from https://www.ornes.nl/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Play-in-children-s-development-health-and-well-being-feb-2012.pdf.

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