Playtime is essential for child development


What was your favorite game when you were a kid? How did you spend your summer afternoons? I was an only child for the first six years of my life and we lived in an apartment in the city so there was no backyard, or pool, or many friends with whom to share games and active play. I spent a lot of time reading books and my favorite game was to pretend that I was a secret agent solving some kind of mystery. I used to hide behind the washer to exchange messages with other secret agents via a special transmiter made of an old thermoter’s case.

Are your kids overschedule? Do they have enough free time for exploratory play? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics lack of unstructured playtime can exacerbate stress.

As parents we want the best for our children. I clearly remember driving my kids back and forth from T-ball or piano lessons and stressing over my desire to provide them with “well rounded” education. We spent a lot of time in the car and they were stressed too. Perhaps it would have been better to just let them play freely without the pressure of structure and competition…

In a recent news release, lead author Regina Milteer, MD, FAAP said: “using their imaginations, fantasizing, and trying grown up roles helps children take on their fears and create a world they can master.”

Take a second look at your kid’s schedule and cut back a little allowing them the freedom to create their own games. Everyone will benefit from a little time off….

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