The Power of Play

By Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

Play is the first language your child speaks. It’s one that can be sustained and enjoyed for life if it is nurtured. When we tune in and play with children—really connect and play—we offer them a mirror of worthiness. Babies and kids receive that loving attention and get the feeling that they are seen and that they MATTER. The good news is that this is a foundational connection that parents have the opportunity to make and then foster over and over and over again. The great news is that many, many parents DO play with their children—a lot. We know that play is good for kids, but it’s great grown-ups too. Here are three ways that play can help US out as parents:

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10 Facts About Play

Did you know?

  1. Play is important to healthy brain development 1,2,3
  2. Parents who learn new ways to play with their child are less likely to lose their temper
  3. Play helps children build relationships with the key people in their lives
  4. Children need the same opportunity to play with ALL family members: parents, caregivers, siblings and grandparents.
  5. Play helps children build the confidence and resiliency they will need to face future challenges. 4,7,12
  6. Play helps children become joyful, pro-social, and independent.
  7. Play gives a voice to very young, vulnerable, unheard children
  8. Play helps children work out stress and strong emotions that can affect how their brain develops.
  9. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination
  10. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears
  11. while practicing adult roles. 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11
  12. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. 4,7,8,13
  13. Physically active play builds strength, coordination, cardiovascular fitness and helps reduce childhood obesity. 14-17

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