Playtime Helps Kids Maintain Balance in Mind and Body


Busy Lives

Today our kids are busier than ever. Soccer practice, piano lessons, gymnastics, school, homework, baseball practice, voice lessons, tutoring time, computer time and the list goes on. There does not seem to be as much down time in this competitive world as there was back in the 60's and 70's. We and our kids are on a constant run all the time. Play time is so important for kids so they can express themselves as individuals, be creative, and learn how to interact with others or how to figure out how to do something on their own. Teaching our kids how to stick to a schedule and the great lessons they learn from activities and classes are great life lessons, but play time for our kids to maintain mental and physical balance is just as important for their development. Children and exercise go hand in hand, and will help them keep balance in their lives if properly encouraged.

Creative Play is Learning

Because parents are so busy with their lives and their kids' lives, sometimes it is easy to let kids chill by watching TV, playing a video game, or social networking on the computer. Starting as early as possible, parents need to say, "Come on, let's go outside to play" because kids learn through play. When kids are little, parents need to interact with them by doing simple things like taking a nature walk and exploring pine cones, birds, rabbits, the sky, and all the wonders outside that will create a natural curiosity for kids. How many times have we imagined that a cloud looked like another figure, such as a horse, a face, a car, etc? Because of creative play, their brains are engaged, and kids imaginations can run wild with trying to figure out what they see and hear outside. Encourage them while they are young so they do not become couch potatoes save when they grow older. The more active, the more healthy they will be through life, and playing outside can be the key to your child's current and future health.

Physical and Mental Benefits of Play Time

As they grow older confidence in children rise, and they become more independent. Going outside for creative play time will be a great retreat from their busy schedules. They will learn to ride bikes, climb trees, make mud pies, and run to their hearts' content. If there are neighbor kids or play groups, they will learn some of the same lessons they learn in some of their scheduled activities, but it will be free play time and they will have to figure out how to get along with others without supervision. Though it may be difficult, parents need to let kids work things out themselves. When a kid tattletales, it is usually because things aren't going their way. Parents need to tell them to go back and deal with it. This is not indifference on the parents' part; it is allowing the kid to face their own world and to grow with it. Parents must use common sense when a kid tattles; parent need to allow kids to fight their own battles when it is appropriate. Remember, as a parent you want to feel confident when you have to let go and allow your kid to be a part of the world; running interference for the kid all the time will make them insecure and reliant on the parent when they are teens and adults. All of these things will help kids build character, social skills, eye-hand coordination, problem solving, and critical thinking. Kids will definitely become better strategists while they are playing and creating on their own rather than following a video game path or watching a TV show that impresses their thinking. Play time clears their mind of clutter and overwhelming thoughts and allows them to express themselves with structure that they have created.

Kids Need Play Time to be Kids

Yes, it is cliche, but kids need to be kids. Pushing them from one activity or lesson with a constant schedule of their time creates tension and sometimes hatred for the activity. That is not to say they shouldn't be involved in activities or pushed to do well in school. They just need some down time that is not controlled so they can be themselves and build self-confidence while playing and learning on their own. Safety should always be at the utmost importance for the parent. Free play does not mean opening the front door, shoving them out, and saying, "Go play, kid." Common sense and responsibility need to be exercised by both parents and kids. Making sure you know where your child is as at all times is a must. It will build their sense of responsibility by making them check in with you, and it is all right to frequently check on them through the door or window while they play - the kid need not know. Play time needs to come with rules and expectations, yet not so stifling the kid can't enjoy time alone or with friends. Play time with proper guidelines will create an atmosphere where kids can be themselves, balancing and enhancing their mental and physical states enabling them to face their world as they grow.

Something to think about - Did playing outside help you when you were a kid?

When you were a kid, did you play outside a lot?

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Comments 38 comments

Melovy profile image

Melovy 5 years ago from UK

Susan, this is a great hub. I SO agree with you. I have known so many kids who rushed from one scheduled activity to another, and often wondered when they ever got time to play. (Or when their parents got time to breathe!)

We are very fortunate because although we live in a busy city we have a two large gardens nearby where only local residents go and our children were able to play safely outside from quite young.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Thank you, MeLovy! Our kids need their play time so they don't experience burn out before they are adults. We know there is plenty of time for that... UGH!! Also, playing with our kids helps us as parents relieve some stress. I am so glad you have a safe place where your kids were able to play in the city. That would be a challenge.

Thank you for dropping by and reading! :-)

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas

This is such a great article. I loved playing outside and it taught me a love for nature, but my outside was on a farm, a definite difference than I see in town. I had to entertain myself because their were no other kids than my two younger sisters. But I never had weight issues at the time either because I was so active.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

HSB, I was fortunate - I lived in a small town and also had my grandparents' farm. Playing outside taught me to appreciate nature, how to play well with others, how to resolve conflict, how to build great bike ramps and tree houses, and gave me a natural curiosity for my surroundings. I was alone a lot too because my older brothers and sisters were doing their own thing when I came along. You are right, weight was not an issue then or deficient vitamin D. :-)

Thanks for dropping by and commenting! :-)

alocsin profile image

alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

I quite agree though hopefully most kids use this time to actually get physical and social, rather than just sit in front of a TV to play video games. Voting this Up and Interesting.

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I am telling you! lol With two girls - each one involved in so much! I currently have it down to Gymnastics with one, Softball (on hiatus now) with the other - they grew out of Brownies...projects and homework and band! lol My kids so still love to play outside and we have lots of neighbors - they are VERY active! Great hub!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Thanks, Alocsin! Hopefully parents see the benefit of play time for their kids. I hope more get away from tv and video games so they use their imaginations to create their own awesome inventions!

I appreciate your comments and votes. :-)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

HEY RH!! I know what you mean. We had our kids 7 years apart, so when we thought one was finished, the other was just getting started. LOL I did have a rule, though. Only one extracurricular activity per season for each kid - their pick. I guess I should say two rules. No activities but fun and travel during the summer. :-)

Thanks for dropping by, reading, and commenting!! :-)

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago

this is a great hub. more on interactive activities that just chilling on the couch and watch tv. video games should be discouraged. without tv and video, it is better to encourage reading. reading time and play acting is fun.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Thanks, AnjPerez! Sometimes kids and parents are so busy that they fall back on tv and video games and forget about free play time. Reading time and play acting are great activities too!! :-)

Thanks for dropping by, reading, and commenting!!

debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 5 years ago from Greece

What you say in your hub is so right, children must be children. I think that children are so busy these days that they don't know how to handle free time when left to their own devices. I remember someone telling me once that is is important for children to be bored sometimes, as that is when they learn to play and be creative.

A good hub.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Playtime was SO important to me as a kid, and it makes me sad to see so many kids booked solid and deprived of the opportunity to just play. It really does help with mental health and learning.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Debbie, we soo agree! I think many kids are so busy because their parents have great intentions, but they must be allowed to play and create on their own, too. :-)

I agree with your statement about boredom. I remember being bored as a kid, and it did force me to figure out a way to create my own interests. My mom was always around to take care of me if I needed her, but she left me to figure things out, too. I am so glad she did!! Also, boredom is a part of life too. We either deal with it or we don't. My mom's response was, "Well, go find something to do," and I did. I think I turned out okay... ;-)

Thanks so much for dropping by, reading and commenting!!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Simone,play time was so important to me, too, and life didn't seem so busy. Today, there is something going on from the time the kid gets up to the time the kid is going to bed. It is sad! As I said to Debbie, I think parents have great intentions and believe they are saving their children from going down the wrong path, but they are robbing some self-security when they map out and control every minute.

Thanks so much for dropping by, reading, and commenting!

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 5 years ago

Parenting requires role modeling, especially when it comes to play. Play with them and demonstrate play, talk with them about play, and just have fun. As a child I played outdoors daily and I believe it helped keep me healthy and happy. Great information that parents can definitely use in raising children.

missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas

Wonderful hub Susan! I love playtime and I believe it is an important part of learning. Play time helps encourage that beautiful wonderment we all experienced as children. I'm all for balance. Your hub shows how to support the effective blend of mind and body.

Thank you for sharing - voted up!

I still remember running around outside and getting super thirsty. We'd take turns drinking water out of the water hose. Oh, the games we'd invent! fun fun fun :)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Hi Teach! I agree, we have to lead by example in order for our kids to be well-rounded.

Thanks for dropping by, reading, and commenting!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Thanks, MissOlive! I just want our kids to be able to look back at their childhood with fond memories - not the stress of being shuffled all over the place. Activities are good, but kids need time to play for healthy development.

Thanks for dropping by, reading, commenting, and voting! :-)

jeyaramd profile image

jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

Parents are sometimes too eager to have their child learn everything. Perhaps, its to give them an opportunity that they never had. Perhaps to prepare them for a competitive world. Truth is that too much activities can do the opposite and build hatred towards the activity. Children definitely need a breather. Let kids be kids - my sentiments exactly.

Sometimes, its frustrating when we see grandparents who have no time for their busy grandkids. As a child, I had so much time with grandparents.. and I turned out alright. We learn valuable lesson with our family. Lessons for life. Thank you for sharing this educational hub. Parents should definitely read this. Like the old saying goes, "too much of anything is good for nothing". Great hub. Voted up.

bizwin profile image

bizwin 5 years ago from England, UK

Great hub. Few days ago my little girl was watching the sky and seeing horses flying in the cloud. I agree that playtime is good for healthy development.

lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago

Yup kids need to be kids when will they get the chance again? Play time is awesome and loved by everyone

Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Great article. So many parents cram their kids days and don't allow them any free time at all. I remember fondly my days of playing for hours and not worrying about anything.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Thanks, Jeyaramd, it does seem like everyone is too busy for everyone today. "STOP THE WORLD; I WANNA GET OFF!" Too much, too little time. UGH!

Thanks for dropping by, reading, commenting, and voting!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Bizwin, I am so glad your little girl was using her imagination looking at the clouds. That brings back such good memories. I used to love doing that - still do.

Thanks for dropping by, reading, and commenting!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

LoboBrandon, hopefully their parents will remember their own childhood not being so hectic and allow their kids to be kids.

Thanks for dropping by, reading, and commenting!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Me, too, UninvitedWriter! I really loved playing without a care in the world!

Thanks for dropping by, reading, and writing!

Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 5 years ago from New England

Awesome hub! I have always loved being outside, playing or otherwise, ever since I was a child. I love to do so with my daughter, too. As a family, we are outside more, and do not watch television...and we home-school her because we give her more physical activity than she would receive time for in school. :0)

Also, I love watching her play at her own, invented games, whether alone or with other's amazing how intricate a child's imagination is...and it's much more delightful entertainment to watch her, and listen to the stories she tells, than to turn on any form of media. :0)

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM

Great hub! This message is so needed today and I hope many parents read this and take this message to heart. Play time is essential for children's growth for all the reasons you give - learning to interact with others is the most important. Canned time with others (team sports, music lessons, dancing lessons etc.) is important also, but just being able to play with others and relax and be themselves is the most important learning lessons of all.

I am a child of the 60's and in the summertime ran outside to play all day long (of course, after chores and piano practice). In my neighborhood (in NJ) we all were taking music and dancing lessons and created and wrote our own plays and performed them for our parents and neighbors. I don't hear much of that happening today. We took off and went on hikes and picnics all day long and learned about ourselves and our friends. I treasure those memories today.

I hate to see kids recreation and free time so structured today. I believe they are losing a lot. I really enjoyed reading this hub. Voted up!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Seafarer Mama, it is wonderful to watch our children. It sounds like you are teaching her some excellent habits. We don't watch a lot of tv either. My kids loved playing outside, and I would watch them through the windows. I miss those days.

Thanks for dropping by, reading, and commenting!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Suzette, I grew up in the 70's very much the same way you grew up. It was good there were only 3 channels back then. LOL Kids have too much to do and too many choices. Just going outside to play was so fun and relaxing. I loved being a kid!

We used to make up our own plays, too. My mother and brothers and sisters would patiently watch our "make it up as you go" lines. LOL So much fun!

Thanks for dropping by, reading, commenting, and voting!

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kelleyward 5 years ago

Great article. I am also writing about similar issues and how children need to experience nature once again. I think it would be helpful for all of us to get back to a simpler type of lifestyle. I wonder do my kids really need the best school, best teacher, best extracurricular activities etc. Many of the "best" things in life in adulthood are things we work for. I wonder what this generation of children are going to find when they become adults? Thanks !

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Hi Kelley! I think we should help provide the best education for our kids, and that can include public education when you are an active parent. Of course, I am a public school teacher, too. :-) Kids need to have fun. They need time to play and be themselves. It does seem that the idea of "I want my kids to have better" has not been very good for our socitey that now has a generation of people who feel entitled. Kids need to feel loved and worthy. You can't build confidence in your child if you are constantly giving to them because they learn to expect dependence on you rather than themselves. Play time helps them in their independence. (I was using "you" in the general sense. :))

Thanks for dropping by and reading! :-)

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Thailand

voted up and awesome. We all need a little bit more play time in our lives! shared and tweeted.

P.S. The SHARING CLUB is now back online under "Do You Like to Share? Let's Help Everyone Get More Readers!". It had to be re-written from a social aspect to meet the T&Cs (completely my error, I hadn't realized).

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

All of us need a break... Our kids are so busy, which makes us busy and crazy. LOL Thanks for the heads on the SHARING CLUB!! I shared it last night. THANKS FOR SHARING!! :-)

wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 5 years ago from Central United States

For the children here outside time summer and winter when the weather allows are a part of life. There are often times when they feel they are not being watched but they always are even when there are eleven at a time.

I spent more time in the great out doors than I ever did in a house when I was young. I still show children the basics of outdoors survival. There were things to show even the two year olds.

Kids should be allowed to be outdoors when possible. Things they learn can last a lifetime. Thanks for SHARING.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

You are absolutely right, Wheelin'! Kids learn so much from being outside. I remember spend so much time play and constructing things outside. And, I remember being taught safety issues from my mom and my neighbor's parents. Experiences I would trade for the world.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

Childhood covers a short period in our life, but it has a tremendous impact for the rest of our life.

As a child I was always encouraged to go out and make friends. Playtime was best time of my day.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Vinaya, you are my 1300th comment! Thanks for that!! :-) Yes, we only get to be kids once. We have enough scheduled time as adults, but our kids need time just to play and be kids. Thanks so much for dropping by!! :-)

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