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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Happy Hearts, Healthy Minds: 7 Emotional Benefits of Play

Photo by fauxto_digit (Flickr)

"Free play gives children an outlet to express their emotions and feelings and helps them to develop a sense of who they are." I love this quote by play experts and advocates KaBOOM! because it expresses exactly why I want my girls to play as much as possible. I want them to be happy and healthy. If you want the same for your kids, discover seven more emotional benefits of play.

Play provides a natural outlet for expressing emotions.

Because kids often don't know how to verbalize what they're feeling, they internalize emotions like fear, anger, or worry. Play can be just the activity that draws these emotions and feelings into the open. While running, jumping, and swinging, our kids relax their minds, let go of aggression, and experience joy as they express their emotions in a natural, welcoming, nurturing, and non-judgmental environment.

Play promotes healthy laughter.

Don't you love hearing your kids laugh? My girls' laughter is one of my favorite sounds. Not only does it show me that they're having fun, but laughter also provides amazing emotional benefits and is the perfect medicine for our kids, as it relaxes their entire body, boosts their immune system, and enhances their relationships.

Play develops communication and empathy skills.

When kids play together, they develop communication and empathy skills. I always appreciate how my girls can talk out a problem or compromise as they play with each other, friends, and me. Because of play, our kids will enjoy more emotionally fulfilling friendships and relationships now and throughout their lives.

Play improves a child's sense of self.

Every kid needs to discover their strengths, what they like, and what makes them happy, and play builds this sense of self-worth. During play, kids can decide if they excel at physical fitness, leadership, encouragement, or another skill. No matter what our kids are good at, they build their self-worth while playing.

Play is critical for stress relief.

Being a kid is stressful, but I've seen play help so many kids who are going through difficult home situations, friendship tests, school struggles, and other challenges. With fantasy, active, and free play, our kids manage stress and experience relief that helps them feel normal and achieve emotional stability.

Play builds a child's sense of accomplishment.

When my girls were little, I watched them try to master the monkey bars. They struggled, fell, and tried again until one day they finally succeeded. Because they set and achieved a goal, I watched their self-worth skyrocket. Now, they have the confidence to set goals at school and in their extracurricular activities thanks to play.

Play helps kids make friends.

Isn't friendship one of the best parts of childhood? Having a buddy, being accepted, and knowing that you're loved really build our kids up emotionally. By taking your children to the park, on a hike, or to your backyard for playtime, you help them make and keep friends.

Play is about more than fun or exercise. It actually builds the emotional lives of our kids and helps them have happy hearts and healthy minds. I love how play builds my kids up emotionally, and it does the same for the kids you love, too!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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