- Family and Parenting»
- Parenting Skills, Styles & Advice
Playtime Helps Kids Maintain Balance in Mind and Body
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.