The Importance of Play

One of my favorite quotes lately came from my pediatrician. He recently posted the following to his Facebook page:

Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.

How many of us have held our children back from enjoying a moment for fear of what they may do? I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of this from time to time. Goodness knows, there’s nothing more embarrassing than an unruly tot. But I’ve had to remind myself, and sometimes my husband, that our fear of what he MAY do is interfering with what he CAN do.

What I mean by this is by holding him back, we’re not allowing him to experience what’s necessary for proper growth and development. Now don’t get me wrong, we rarely limit his freedom of expression. But there are moments when we do hold him back simply due to our own insecurities surrounding a situation.

Being cognizant of our behavior has made it easier to recognize moments when we should relax, let go, and just enjoy our tots growing level of independence and skill.

Sure, things get messy. But that just means he fulfilled his role as a toddler. For a tot, play is essential. Remember that your tot is not a little adult. They’re NOT! He/she is a tiny caveman who is (with a little luck) ever so slowly developing the skills to resemble a socially graceful human being.

Interested how play contributes to your tots development? When children run, play with a ball or jump on the sofa they’re developing large motor skills. By stringing beads, using scissors, or playing with clay they’re developing fine motor skills. When your tot takes turns, shares, or listens to and/or cooperates with others they’re developing social skills. Through play, children gain knowledge about the world, and learn to engage in problem solving. Play helps children work through their own internal conflicts, and learn to self regulate. Play also encourages your tot to relax and practice newly acquired verbal skills.

So, examine yourself. Do you often limit your tot’s play for fear of what they’ll do? Don’t stress. We’ve all been there. But by recognizing the importance of play, you’ll be less likely to hold your tot back, and more apt to plop yourself on the floor for an always fun round of horsey!

Children are only able to live with such freedom for a VERY short time- embrace it!


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