top of page
Search

PLAY TIME AND THE CHILD’S BRAIN


“Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise”. Psalms 33:3



“And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play”. Exodus 32:6



The Oxford dictionary defines ‘play’ as engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than for a serious or practical purpose.


Growing up, I remember playing in the stand outside my house, jumping, running, screaming and dancing. From Mondays to Fridays weekly, we enjoyed playing with other kids on the street at about 4pm every evening after school and homework. We gathered to take turns riding our bicycles. The boys sometimes played soccer, and the girls skipped ropes and played hand games while our parents gladly watched us play. Little did I know then that I was developing and building a lot of skills such as communication skills, social skills, emotional awareness and control as I could read people’s body language easily and tell through their voice what emotions they are expressing.


Now, as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I can look back and understand why many of my childhood friends were able to go through life’s challenges being strong and focused. Studies reveal that play helps children develop their brains because the brain learns through interactions and life experiences. When children play, the brain releases such hormones as ‘endorphin’ and ‘serotonin’ which reduces the risks of depression. It has also proven that playing is a great way for children to improve their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being. Through playing, children learn about themselves and the world around them. They also are able to learn skills they need for social interactions and relationships.


There are many benefits of play that children stand to gain when they are allowed to engage in it. As a parent, teacher or adult, it is your responsibility to ensure that every child in your care has the liberty to play regularly. Children enjoy play better when they are allowed to exercise their creativity at it but, as an adult around them, initiating it spurs their interest in engaging.


Research goes further to tell us that the impact of play deprivation in children can be a lifelong one. Simply put, when a child is unable to play freely or engage in normal play activities, it can inhibit social and emotional learning as well as damage early child development.


According to Play Wales, the Welsh national charity for children’s play, if a child lacks the sensory interactions that are achieved through play, it ‘can only result in behavioral instability, neurological dysfunction, unhappiness, and a lack of mental wellbeing in affected children’. I am sure that is the last thing any parent will want for their children.


Here are some of the basic importance of play in children:

  • Brain development: The brain of every human needs to be actively engaged often to enable its proper development. It is important that children play because from that early stage, the brain needs the impact for its neurological functioning.

  • Helps them process difficult emotions: Most children are only able to think and get over personal emotional complications when they play because they get to express themselves freely with their friends or peers. The hormones released when they play makes them feel good and hence, gives way for a healthy emotional life.

  • Reduces obesity and associated diseases: Play is a good form of exercise for children. When they get to engage in it regularly, they burn unnecessary calories and stand a better chance of achieving body fitness, thereby reducing the risk of housing certain diseases.

  • Helps family bonding: Children whose parents or guardians initiate play with, grow up loving and enjoying the company of their parents better than those who lack such. That activity has the ability to create a stronger relationship between parents and children.

  • Builds confidence in them: Confidence naturally grows in children who get opportunities to play. This is because through various games they participate in during their play, they are subconciously practicing how to confront challenges in real life fearlessly.

  • Reduces stress level and increases chances of recovery from trauma: Even as adults, you’ll agree with me that after a stressful day, the first thing you will think of doing is having a good time of relaxation or do something you enjoy. This happens to children too. Playing helps them manage stress and easily recover from traumatic experiences if they have any. As a matter of fact, when they play, the stress hormone known as ‘cortisol’ gets released thereby leaving them refreshed.

  • Contributes to academic, social, cognitive, emotional and problem-solving skills: A 2009 study shows that school children who have about 15 minutes or more to play during break time stay more focused in class and sometimes perform even better than those whose break time lasts lesser than 15 minutes. Children who play are better with social interactions than those who do not. Also, the creativity they practice during play time helps improve their ability to promptly respond to problems with the aim of solving them.


In conclusion, if the one who created us made provision in scriptures for the children of Israel to play as we see in the scriptures quoted above, what excuse do we have to deprive our children of this very important aspect of their growth and development? The health and mental benefits of playing should inspire you to create the right atmosphere for your children to play regularly and reasonably.


Much love,

Nene Oluwagbohun.


168 views3 comments

Recent Posts

See All

3 Comments


Jessica Thomas
Jessica Thomas
Mar 09, 2023

Wow, I've always wondered why my brother forgets what made him sad after playing, few days ago, a friend of his made him sad and after calming him down, I was expecting him to like sit down and relax or even sleep, but he went out to join the other kids in the compound to play, few minutes later, he came in and was narrating with so much joy how his team scored lots of goals 😅.

Thank God I came across this content, now I understand 😌

Like

Most parents this days don't allow their children to play as they should, from school to lessons to homework at home, no time to play. Even when they are at home, they are not allowed to go out and play with their friends or neighbors. I hope parents have a rethink for the development of their children.

Like

Playing helps alot in the life of a child. I noticed when my children play very well especially in the evening. They usually sleep well. Weldon done sis Nene . God bless you 🙏

Like
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page