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Benefits of Play on Children

Physical benefits

A child’s body develops through physical play. His senses sharpen, his reactions become refined, and he learns the use of appropriate limbs to achieve his goals. In the beginning years, play helps a child learn about the world around him as he touches and feels the objects within his reach. Bones become stronger, vision is sharpened and the limbs become stronger. Running and exercising helps the flow of blood and results in a healthier, happier child.

Mental Benefits

Play provides answers to the curiosity and restlessness of the child. The imagination of a child is very strong, and play helps to bring it out. A child can thus imagine that he is a principal and his friends are the students, or that he and his friends are part of a family and they take on the role of adults. Such play makes the child creative as he puts himself in another’s role.

The child also learns certain forms of behavior through play. He learns about fairness and justice, about sharing and caring. He learns to become alert and watchful. He becomes lively and enthusiastic. He learns to invent solutions when he is in a fix and how to outwit his rivals in play. All these tactics are of great use later in life.

Emotional benefits

Children often get angry when they do not achieve their desires. When they lose a game, they may sulk, or whine, or even attack the rival/s. In time, and through the help and guidance of others, they will learn to control themselves. This is especially true if the play is supervised or at least watched by an adult. Through play the child will learn to accept defeat, and not feel jealous of another’s victory. It removes the self-centeredness that is very common in children.

Social benefits

A child should be encouraged to play with others. Some children are shy and hesitate to participate in playing with others. Parents should try and contrive gatherings of friends whom the child knows and will feel comfortable with. He will thus overcome his shyness. Many social problems can be overcome by playing co-operatively with others. Parents today find it difficult to arrange for their children to play with those whom they know and trust. Stressful lifestyles, distances etc. all do their part in keeping children apart. However parents should try as much as possible to ensure that their children get occasional chances to play with others. Playing at home with siblings or parents also has similar benefits.

Children benefit differently from playing. For many it is a path to gaining confidence, recognizing one’s abilities, and learning about others. Play uplifts the spirit of the child, making him cheerful and lively. It removes sorrow and anger, and is a good medicine for an unhappy child.

Types of play

A young child can play with almost anything. He does not need fancy and expensive toys. Simple inexpensive forms of play could include playing with old utensils, scraps of cloth and paper etc. Parents should be creative and look for things the child could play with, rather than buy the latest in the stores. A child who keeps on getting new toys will soon become dissatisfied, and will not be content with anything. Many children these days are quick to lose interest in a toy. They should be shown creative ways of playing.

Forms of play differ according to age and ability of children. Younger children like to play with water, scrap materials, paper and glue, etc. They like to build and destroy. As they grow older they begin to play in groups. They like organized games and a chance to show their skills through play. Children may develop interest in a particular sport or hobby. Parents should encourage this if possible, and help their child develop his talent.

Adopted from the book: "Raising Children" by: "Tahera Kassamali"

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