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Playing Games: A Serious Business for Kids

There is a lot more going on than learning to count when one kid covers their eyes and the rest scramble out of sight. “Play” has various forms and they all tie into learning emotional, physical, and social skills that will define their adult lives. Everything from “Hide and Seek” to “The Floor is Lava” is ensuring their brains and bodies develop in a healthy way. Child Psychologists have classified different forms of play into various types and stages over the last hundred years. Here’s a short list of how playing games can help develop children physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Peek-a-boo and Tickling: The benefits of play start in infancy. It’s important to stimulate the child’s brand new senses as they are just beginning to explore them. At this earliest stage, it’s all about looking around. Walk around with the baby where they can see variations of colors and let them interact with you as you make various expressions.

Tag and Foot Races: There are clearly some physical benefits to this kind of play, but recent studies have shown that these kinds of activities will also stimulate the parts of the brain that are often under-developed in children with attention disorders. Playing these games in outdoor and green settings may help reduce the symptoms of such disorders even more.

Rough Play, Play Fighting and Wrestling: Like other especially physical games, these will help with building muscle and developing balance and endurance. This type of play is also very important in emotional growth as well. When children are allowed to play rough mistakes and accidents will happen. Miscalculations will occur and sometimes children will hurt each other. These cause and affect incidents are essiantial for children to learn about consequences, empathy, remorse and forgiveness. It is important to note that bullying and unprovoked physical confrontations are not the same as rough play.

I Spy and Riddles: Mentally challenging games like these are great for creativity and problem-solving. Thinking critically is very hard work and requires a lot of practice to master. Turning practice to play will encourage the child to work hard to learn while also working hard to have fun.

Pretend Play: Kids love to play pretend. Making up new scenarios to jump around be active helps with creativity. Coming up with pretending obstacles to work around helps with planning and problem-solving skills. Playing pretend helps children learn about themselves and others by learning about the different roles they enjoy playing out and which ones they don’t.

What matters most is getting on the floor or in the yard and having fun with our kids and challenge them to play hard. These activities are not just fun and games. They have an important role to play. Giving our children the confidence and skills they need to be successful in this ever more competitive world shouldn’t be an all work affair. Find some games you like to play and teach them to your kids!

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