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Let them play

Published in For the Health of It Author: Krystal Thrasher,OTR/L Author: Krystal Thrasher, MA, OTR/L

In the busyness of modern life, it can be easy to pass the stress of a hurried, over-scheduled life on to children, leaving out time for play. However, a recent report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) emphasizes the importance of play for children’s healthy development, including social, emotional, language and cognitive skills. “We’re recommending that doctors write a prescription for play, because it’s so important,” said Pediatrician Michael Yogman, MD, FAAP, lead author of the AAP report.

The new AAP report also explains how play:

  • Improves executive function skills
  • Builds the bond between caregiver and child
  • Helps buffer the negative impact of stress

While research demonstrates the benefits of play for children, there are several societal forces that threaten children’s time to play.

  • Increased emphasis on reading and math skills at an earlier age
  • Decrease in recess time
  • Parents’ concerns about outside safety
  • Media use distracting children from play
  • Pressure to enroll children in “enrichment opportunities”

Say yes, next time your child asks to play. Let them take the lead. Provide unstructured time and a safe environment. Remember, play can take many forms: traditional toys/objects, outdoor, active physical/rough-and-tumble, pretend, social (with peers or adults). Playing with a child also gives you opportunity to relive the fun part of your childhood and the immense joy of watching your child’s interests and passions develop. It also focuses time and energy on your bond and relationship with your child.

If you have concerns with your child’s development, please contact your provider. Log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.

Read more about the benefits of playing at playgrounds.