Play is an incredibly important part of children’s development as well as their mental health. Of course, kids love to play because it’s fun, but there’s so much more to it than that. Playing provides children with opportunities to make decisions, practice self control, learn problem solving skills and explore their imaginations. There are countless benefits of play. Let’s focus on the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional value of play for children and how this in turn affects their mental health

Cognitive Benefits

Play develops critical thinking skills by helping children understand the concept of cause and effect, encouraging curiosity and exploration, and inspiring them to create, pretend, use their imaginations, and problem solve. These skills are the foundation of intellectual development.

Physical Benefits

While they are playing, children are improving their gross and fine motor skills. There are also increasing their muscle control, coordination, and strength. Outdoor play helps children sleep better at night. It also causes children to interact with the natural environment and gain appreciation for nature. In addition, outdoor play improves mental health as a result of physical activity.

Social Benefits

When children play together, the essential skills of compromise, negotiation, and listening to other people are learned. These skills are important throughout life. The greatest social benefit of play is learning how to engage with others while having fun. Children develop an understanding of social expectations, rules, and how to share ideas with other people through play.

Emotional Benefits

Play is a joyful activity. Children are generally happy and silly while they play. The natural joy and energy of being a child is unconstrained and experienced by children through the act of playing. Engaging in play also reduces stress and provides an outlet to process emotions and events. Finally, play helps children build self confidence and encourages positive self esteem.

One of the most essential things parents and guardians can do for their children when it comes to play is to play with them. Playing together is a positive and supportive connection for both adult and child. Providing your child with love and attention by playing with them allows you to help them create the foundation for the development of cognitive, physical, social, and emotional skills that will positively impact their mental health and well being. Research shows that children who play with their caregivers are less likely to develop anxiety, depression, aggression, and sleep problems. So don’t wait another second – allow yourself the pleasure and enjoyment of playing with your kids. Odds are your mental health will be positively affected too!