Why Play Is So Important for Kids – And Common Ways Moms Sabotage

It may look like just fun and games, but it’s really your kid building the fundamental frameworks for understanding and succeeding in the real world. Play is so important for kids and here’s why:

Children’s main job is playing.

They play nearly all day long for years, in fact. They are exploring and their curiosity will lead them to all kinds of places. Like under the sink, your bathroom drawer, and under beds.

I’ll say… kids can play with anything and they play with everything. Except expensive toys.

They never play with those.

So since we know play is so important for kids, let’s dive into inadvertent ways we sabotage play with our kids.

Play improve cognitive abilities.

Play promotes healthy cognitive development and critical thinking skills. In fact, its scientifically proven that children learn through play.

Independent or free play allows children to safely make mistakes. And, making mistakes is the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t. In fact, learning from mistakes is the best way to grow cognitively.

Another thing that happens with play is the growth of a child’s imagination. When interacting with children, I can always tell when a child hasn’t had the opportunity to be imaginative.

⭐Moms sabotage this by…

  • Prohibiting their children from making mistakes,
  • limit their exposure to situations that require them to think critically,
  • don’t allow their children to play in stimulating environments,
  • And basically cause them to fear failure in the world around them.
  • over-intervene and rescue

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Play is good for physical development.

Many types of playing include physical activities. Whether it’s pushing cars around on make believe roads, kicking a ball with friends, or anything that requires movement. Play often requires movement and gives them exercise.

Here are just a few things physical play can improve in kids:

  • improve cardiorespiratory fitness,
  • build strong bones and muscles,
  • control weight,
  • reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression,
  • and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as…
    • heart disease,
    • cancer,
    • type 2 diabetes,
    • high blood pressure,
    • osteoporosis, and
    • obesity.

⭐Moms sabotage this by…

  • Not providing situations where kids can be active.
  • We turn to screen time too often.
  • We’re averse to chaos and messes.

But, allowing kids to build those forts, swing from those branches, or generally climb the walls can be great for their health.

Play enhances social skills.

When my friend was pregnant with her youngest son, her oldest created an imaginary friend. She researched whether this was normal or safe or maybe a problem.

Turns out that it was pretty regular for a kid to imagine a friend with mommy being pregnant and the anticipation building for a new sibling.

He would talk to, argue with, make plans with, etc. In essence, he was practicing his social skills.

That was just with an imaginary friend, but there’s even more power in practicing social skills with real friends. Even toddlers can do this.

⭐Moms sabotage this by…

  • Talking “at their kids” instead of “to their kids”,
  • answering for their kids when asked questions,
  • not allowing kids to have their own preferences,
  • being anti-social to the degree of fear,
  • talking negatively about their kid in front of others (especially other kids), or
  • not modeling good body language or social skills.

Play encourages healthy emotions & well-being.

Playing reduces stress.

It’s true, play activates a part of the brains signaling system called the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. This allows for a more balanced amount of certain chemicals in the brain- leading to a less stress.

We’ve all heard it said: “laughter is the best medicine.”

There’s nothing like listening to a group of kids laughing and giggle with each other. It’s equally special to listen to your child play independently. He or she may be cutting up, laughing, or making up funny stories.

It is heart warming for us, not to mention for them.

Play teaches children about the world around them.

Play is just practice for the real world. It’s true. Children play because they are learning how the world around them works and getting ready to be a part of it.

We learn through experiences. That’s human nature. It’s very challenging to remember and have things stick that we have no connection with. Play allows those connections to mean something to us.

Play develops skill sets and study tools that are valuable for kids futures. It helps with all life skills really…

It may look like fun and games, but that’s how to understanding and building blocks for knowledge starts.

⭐Moms sabotage this by…

  • being too regimented with location of play
  • not allowing/providing opportunities to experience play,
  • sheltering children too much,
  • neglecting to give their children opportunities to do hard things (things they will probably fail in),
  • causing fear to rule their children’s decisions, or
  • telling them that they can’t do something/aren’t good enough to try hard things.

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Play guides children to their self-identity and fosters independence.

Both things that we really want for our children. Yes, I know… we never want them to grow up and not need us. But, it’s going to happen and we may as well give them all the opportunities they can get to be balanced and successful in this world.

So, play (especially independent play) really helps children discover who they are. What their likes and dislikes are, what they enjoy doing in their free time, the types of personalities that they get along with, etc.

One of the best things we can do for our kids is to let them play. In fact, I recommend adding in all that play time to their daily routine, based on their age.

  • 1 year old schedule
  • 2 year old schedule
  • 3 year old schedule
  • 4 year old schedule


  • Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain
  • Physical Activity/Play Facts

The post Why Play Is So Important for Kids – And Common Ways Moms Sabotage appeared first on A Mother Far from Home.

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