Do you remember as a child how those words would bring a sense of joy, excitement, and a release of the true you?
Play is such an important part of being human and such a positive part of our lives! It is crucial for early brain development and teaches babies and young children how to interact with the world around them. Play enhances a child’s cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development. It also provides a stress free way for parents to interact with their children, strengthening the family unit.
Despite all of these well known benefits, there is a crisis of play invading our culture! Families are increasingly on a hurried pace and kids are starting scheduled activities at younger ages then ever before. Technology is permeating younger ages, and Ipad or computer enrichment videos are constantly being marketed to parents of infants. Overall, families are subtly being told that “busier” means better…
So what is the solution? It’s centered in going back to the basics. Allow your child to have a set time for unstructured free play daily! During this time, give your child free access to simple toys like blocks, crayons, simple dolls, cars, recyclables, etc to foster their imagination. More importantly, give your child full access to you! Whether it’s 10 minutes or several hours, set aside daily time to play with your child uninhibited and enter their amazing world of play.
Play is also an important tool for people who work with children. It is commonly for education in schools and even for me as a pediatrician! That’s why when I see my littles in their homes or my cozy clinic, we make it a point to “play” through our appointments. There is no stressful white coat, no cold exam table with wrinkly paper, and no intimidating doctors’ chair. Just me in street clothes with my doctors’ bag, often sitting on the floor or couch with my patients and their parents. I learn about their struggles while tossing balls around, we play tickle games during our exams, and I learn about their development through their latest lego creation! I obtain way more about my patients than I used to when I was practicing in a traditional office. Play helps my families relax and enjoy their “doctor visit”, all the while helping me become a better Pediatrician!
So, when is your next Playdate?😊