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Friday, November 20, 2015

Climb to Success: 5 Ways That Play Preps Kids for the Future

Photo by LabyrinthX (Flickr)

What are your kids going to be when they grow up? My girls don't have their future life journeys figured out yet, but I know that I want them to be well-adjusted, healthy, and successful adults. That means they need to play today. How does play prepare our kids for the future? I've noticed that there are five specific ways our kids can climb to success as they play.

Improve Social Skills

As adults, we use social skills every day. We have to be comfortable around other people, and we need to be able to negotiate, communicate clearly, and express our emotions in healthy ways.

That's one reason why I encourage my girls to play. Every time they visit the playground, enjoy a play date at someone's house, or go outside for recess, they practice social skills. These opportunities improve and mature my kids and prepare them for adulthood.

Explore Different Roles

I'm a firm believer in empowering kids to understand their personalities, interests, and likes. I know, though, that children are a work in progress and need play to help them become more self-aware.

As they explore different roles and play house, tag, or soccer, they discover new things about themselves and about other people. They learn to put themselves in someone else's shoes and be more compassionate and empathetic.

Play also lets children discover their passions. I enjoy watching my girls pretend they're firefighters, teachers, and veterinarians. Who knows what career they'll ultimately choose, but for now, they're exploring new and different roles as they play, and that will help them be happier and more fulfilled as adults.

Establish Physical Activity Habits

I'm a big physical activity advocate because kids are less likely to be obese and more likely to be focused and engaged in school when they're active. Plus, kids who find a physical activity or sport they really enjoy are likely to stick with that activity when they grow up.

There's nothing wrong with playing video games or enjoying sedentary activities like reading, but I also encourage my girls to climb the park's jungle gym, hike a local trail, and roller-skate around the block at least daily. They need these play times for better health now and as they establish physical activity habits that last a lifetime.

Feel Comfortable Making Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. It's part of life. As adults, we can either embrace our mistakes and learn from them or feel depressed and useless when we mess up. I think we all can agree that we want our kids to know that mistakes happen and be comfortable when they fail. Those mistakes mean they're taking risks that help them grow.

Play time is a great time to learn how to make mistakes. As kids build block castles, throw a football, and practice drawing, they're figuring out that mistakes are normal, learning how to cope with their humanness, and honing their problem-solving skills. This resilience and ability to embrace mistakes can only help our kids in the future.

Promote Mental Health

Kids spend hours concentrating on academics every day in school. When they come home, they have homework, scheduled activities, and practices. When do they have time to relax, unwind, and play?

Kids need downtime in their daily schedule. A healthy work-life balance can reduce burnout and anxiety. Play also reduces depression. Shooting hoops, jumping rope, and building blocks are all activities that cam improve a child's current mental health and establish good mental health habits for them when they're adults.

Playtime today is essential for our kids' future success. They're more likely to be prepared for the real world thanks to lessons they learn during play. How will you encourage your kids to play and climb to success today?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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