Quit Interrupting, Your Kid Needs to Play!

Author – Moira Sullivan, MS, OTR/L, occupational therapist


Kids need to play. In the age of the “tiger Mom” we feel more pressure to teach our kids everything, their success depends on our constant intervention in their lives, or does it? If they play, they will be more creative, if they are more creative now, they will be more innovative later. Innovation is the cornerstone of success.

We all want our children to grow up into successful, happy adults. When I ask parents what they want for their children as adults, the answers I most often hear are good relationships, successful careers, creativity, and resilience. Health Insurance quotes for families here.

In fact, research has shown that the single biggest contributor to self reported happiness for adults is the relationships they have in their lives. So what role does play have in raising successful, happy adults?

  • Social interaction skills – cooperation, problem solving, empathy…
  • Creativity – figuring things out teaches critical thinking skills
  • Motor skills – coordination, strength, endurance, overall health

Let’s take a closer look at some typical play activities and the components that go into them:

  • Throwing and catching a ball – paying attention to what another person is doing, anticipating their movements, visual tracking, coordinating both sides of the body to bring hands together, moving one’s body to adjust to where the ball is headed, looking at where you want to throw the ball, feeling the ball in one’s hand, coordinating the body to bring one or both hands in a motion to throw… back and forth
  • Climbing on a structure at the park –coordinating the right and left sides of the body to move arms and legs, judging distance without having to look at what your feet are doing, figuring out how to do it all in reverse to get down…
  • Playing a board game – understanding the rules, taking turns, visual tracking to see where to move the pieces next, recognizing colors and shapes, in hand manipulation to pick up the pieces and move them…

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As you can see, there are many components that go into even a simple activity.

Children engage in two main types of play:

Adult Directed – good for learning rules, structure, cooperation, building skills.

Adult Supervised – good for problem solving, creativity, resilience, thinking for themselves, attention and focus, cooperation, negotiation

Most children today have more adult directed activities than ever before. A balance between the two will encourage a more well rounded, creative, resilient child, leading to a happy, successful adult.

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More from Moira at www.wholekidstherapy.com

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