Children growing up in this digital era have been involving themselves in the Internet and mobile devices at very young ages. Pew Research Center’s findings on children’s digital device engagement found that many children under the age of 12 usually watch TV, go online on a computer, or use their smartphones. Around 60% of parents said their children started interacting with smartphones before they turned five. So what is the Secret to Raising a Happy and Successful Child in these times?
While technology has benefits, too much can take away time from a crucial part of a child’s development: playtime. More than just keeping kids occupied, playing teaches them important skills and values they can take with them as they grow up.
Here are some ways play can give your child a leg up in life:
It builds competence
Children develop a lot of their skills through learning, primarily through experience. As the Raising Mums podcast episode on “The Power of Play” points out, when children play, they can discover social problems and solve these problems by inventing scenes and stories. It develops their curiosity and love for learning when they try to figure out how to best fix the issue they’ve noticed, and letting them do it on their own can empower them too. Role-playing games are great for this, as your child can get into a character and find creative solutions for the problems.
It encourages creativity
Your child doesn’t always need friends to have fun while playing; having them play alone can get their creative juices flowing more freely. Unicef’s insights on free play emphasize that this method can help kids express their imagination in a way that is unique to them and makes exploring the world around them more enjoyable. As a parent, supervision and involvement are still important, but make sure to center this time around what your child wants to do. Offer them a safe space for playing however they want; you’ll see their creativity blossom as they age.
It helps kids listen better
Some kids may have trouble listening or following instructions, and finding ways to remedy that isn’t easy. However, NPR’s Life Kit podcast highlights a playtime ritual that can encourage your child to listen well, called “special time.” For at least five minutes a day, parents can join their child in an activity, and they won’t give instructions to the child. Praise them for specific actions, imitate how they play or describe their actions. Studies show that this playtime can help manage disruptive behavior and deepen the parent-child bond.
It develops their motor skills
Playing doesn’t only have emotional or cognitive health benefits for kids. It can help develop and refine their gross and fine motor skills. During playtime, they learn how to move their body, stay balanced, lift things or strengthen their muscles. As they grow up, tasks like tying their shoes or buttoning their shirts will be much easier, and they learn to do it on their own faster.
During playtime, give them toys or apparatuses to help them get used to moving. Our article called “10 Ways to Use Your Pikler-Inspired Climbing Triangle to Promote Motor Development” lists down some ways you can use a climbing triangle to guide your baby with kneeling, standing, and crawling. Children need ample time for play to grow up happy and healthy in all aspects of life. So put away the devices for an hour, and let your child choose how they want to play today.