The Healing Properties of Play
Playing is the act of engaging in an enjoyable activity that isn’t directly necessary for survival. Many baby animals engage in play – it’s in their very nature. They play with other young animals and they play with their parents. If you’ve ever seen a video of lion cubs, you may have noticed that their play is a little aggressive. For example, they might sneak up behind their parents and pounce on them. They bite and they wrestle. This type of play teaches young cubs how to hunt and prepares them for the future.
Children begin to play at a very young age – just like their animal counterparts. They start noticing toys and may begin to smile at preferred objects. Playing obviously brings joy to a child but did you know that play also serves a very important purpose in your child’s development? The purpose of your child’s play may not be as obvious as the lion cubs but it plays a huge role in your child’s physical and emotional growth. Keep reading to find out how!
Play improves your child’s motor skills.
Motor skills are actions that use the muscles in your body. We have fine motor skills, which are smaller and more precise. Some examples of find motor skills are picking up small objects with the pincer grasp (between index finger and thumb) or wriggling toes. Gross motor skills are bigger movements and involve activities like crawling, walking, or running. When your child plays, he or she is working different muscle groups that will help them prepare for important life skills.
Play helps your child process experiences.
Play is an extremely important tool that helps your child understand the world around them. When something happens in a child’s world they will often replay their experience in their play. Parents may be able to help their child process these experiences by asking questions to help their child learn from his or her experiences.
Play can help a child heal from trauma.
Play is cathartic. It’s a way for children to relax and be a kid. When a child experiences trauma they may not be able to relax or get their mind off of what happened. Encouraging a child to play will help them do this. Playing allows a child to escape from reality. It helps them use a different part of their brain than what they are perpetually in as a result of trauma.
Play can improve your child’s cognitive functioning.
Play is a great way to help your child learn. When you play with your child you can teach them words, colors, shapes, etc. As they get older you can help them learn strategy and critical thinking skills. A child learns best when they are happy and relaxed so play is the perfect time for teaching moments!
Play can improve the parent-child relationship.
Play is an awesome way to bond with your child. You should use play time to focus all of your attention on your child. Praise them. Hug them. Just take this time to enjoythem. They’re not little forever. One day your child will become an adult. Don’t take this time for granted!
What are some of your favorite things to do with your child? Check out Parent Coaching Services with Leanne Pilgrim if you’re having trouble figuring out how to maximize the benefits of play! Sign up for your FREE consultation today!