What children learn and express through play

Some parents make the mistake of assuming that the playtime enjoyed by boys and girls is, in fact, wasted time that could be better spent studying.

Nothing could be further from the truth: even if we tend to associate the experience of play with the notion of “leisure”, in childhood, this is not limited to providing well-being and entertainment, but is one of the drivers of the psychological development of boys and girls So, in this article we will talk about what the little ones in the house express and learn through play.

    Why is play essential to the psychological development of children?

    For those going through the first stage of life, play is more than a source of entertainment and pleasurable sensations: it has objective effects on psychological processes related to maturation. In fact, it even happens in non-human animals; puppies of many species spend much of their time playing and exploring the environment driven by curiosity, indicating that the usefulness of play among members of our bloodline dates back millions of years.

    But… What exactly are the functions of play in childhood? Here you can see a summary of it.

    1. It’s one of the pillars of socialization

    Gambling is an “excuse” boys and girls use establish spontaneous relationships with other people, especially children of the same age, siblings and primary caregivers. It establishes a situation in which complicity with others is generated and one learns what expectations are, obedience to rules and their disobedience, the use of humor to generate an emotional reaction in others, deception, concealment of information and its consequences, cooperation, and more.

      2. It provides an ideal context for developing language

      While playing, boys and girls embody various characters; that’s to say they take on very different roles from their own way of being, representing the behavior of other humans, animals, or even plants and objects. This makes your language much richer, since in these “simulators” of being other beings, you have to adopt other points of view, other topics of discussion and other styles of communication.

        3. It helps them develop their creativity and abstract thinking ability

        As the game is based on the imagination, it exposes children to situations in which they must fill with their creativity all that is not directly observable on the situations it represents that take place during the game. For example, they must imagine spaceships, satellites, meteorites, etc. And in the same way, they learn to combine abstract thoughts not by direct observation, but by estimating experiences of the type: “What if…?” “. That is, they will get used to interconnecting ideas in their imagination, to finding similarities between concepts that apparently have nothing to do with each other and hardly come together in any obvious way. in reality.

          4. It is a psychological function to relieve tension

          The game is also a very useful resource to release the tensions accumulated during the day and, why not, to evacuate the stress. It helps to disconnect from worriessomething key also in childhood, despite the fact that minors do not have the responsibilities of adults, since they are psychologically more vulnerable and suffer earlier when suffering from anxiety, distress, obsessive worry and other common forms of psychological discomfort.

          5. It allows them to express their main interests when they discover the world

          Through play, children can express their first interests, even before they have mastered enough language to communicate them to their parents or to be aware of what they want to say. This it is a very important reference for caregivers, who can adapt to their concerns and motivations.

          6. It’s a way to learn to distinguish between reality and fantasy

          In cooperative play, children see the need to discriminate between possible and impossible situations, since otherwise they will not be able to understand what others are doing and likewise they will not be able to be understood. This happens by understanding what the rest of the boys and girls expect us to interpret from their behavior when playing.that is, to understand and act “as if…”.

          Looking for professional psychological help?

          If you are interested in having professional psychological support for children, adults or families, contact our team of professionals.

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          Bibliographic references

          • Berk, LE (2012). Infants and children: Prenatal to middle childhood. Allyn & Bacon.
          • Cantero, MP (2011). History and concepts of developmental psychology. Psychology of human development. University club
          • Howard C. (2008). Children at Play: An American Story. New York: NYU Press.
          • Landreth, GL (1991). Play therapy. ERIC Digest: New York.
          • Roull, A. (2019). Play therapy in children: therapeutic tools for the little ones. We are psychologists.

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