Creative entrepreneur Radha Kapoor Khanna is a strong advocate for children’s playtime, and cites the positive impact it has on the development and social behaviour of the little ones.
As the saying goes, all work and no play does make Jack a dull boy. Dedicated playtime for kids is an important contributor to kids’ overall development. However, unfortunately, it is also one of the most overlooked aspects of children’s lives. Parents often tend to be so focused on their children’s academic performance that they forget the crucial role that activities like roleplay and games play in promoting the kids’ growth.
Creative entrepreneur Radha Kapoor Khanna is a strong advocate for children’s playtime, and cites the positive impact it has on the development and social behaviour of the little ones. According to her, brain development in the first months and years is the most important and play can prove to be a powerful, brain-building activity that supports all areas of your child’s development, including language, math, motor, and social skills.
Here are some of the strongest merits that dedicated playtime for children holds:
1. Maintaining a secure and loving relationship with your child
Most children crave love, and hence it is important for parents to be caring, dependable, supportive and responsive to their child’s needs. Children who share a strong bond with their parents are more likely to solve social problems, show empathy, share, and show generosity. All these qualities can be developed in children through games and various other play activities.
2. Staying tuned in to child’s needs
Radha Kapoor Khanna mentions that understanding your child’s behaviour is extremely important to enforce good behaviour. Developing parental sensitivity towards the child’s needs can help with this. An NICHHD study revealed that mothers who scored highly on maternal sensitivity had kids with the best behavioural outcomes. Spending time together with your child while engaging in activities of their interest can help build relational trust, which can in turn be translated into a better understanding of the child’s needs.
3. Being your child’s emotional coach
Experiencing different emotions makes kids learn to better regulate themselves. Whether they are happy or sad, kids can explain emotions through imaginative play, role play, story-telling etc. Getting involved in these activities can be a nice way of building healthy parent child bonds.
There are six stages of social play which start right at birth and get developed as a child’s age progresses. These are:
1. Unoccupied play
This is the beginning of play that gets started right from birth. Babies engage in random movements with seemingly no apparent purpose, but which they seem to enjoy.
2. Solitary play
This happens when children start to play on their own, usually after becoming familiar with objects, actions, and ideas. Solitary play also promotes a sense of initiative, and helps develop their creativity along with the powers of concentration, persistence, and completion.
3. Onlooker play
This is the next stage of play when children watch others play. The onlooker may ask questions of other children, but there is no effort to join the play. This enhances children’s observational skills.
4. Parallel play
Parallel play starts when children begin to play side-by-side with other children but don’t interact much. However, they are observing each other. This stage helps develop children’s communication skills, motor skills, and overall personality.
5. Associative play
This stage happens at the age of 3-4 years. A child will start interacting more with the other child they are playing with. However, they do not set rules and there is no formal organisation.
6. Social play
Children begin to socialise at this stage by sharing ideas and toys. They also have their own rules. This stage is where a child learns and practices social skills, like cooperating, sharing, being flexible, taking turns, and problem solving.
So, how can parents support and encourage their child’s free play? According to Radha Kapoor Khanna, a number of steps can be taken in this regard. Becoming a champion for kids’ playtime can be achieved either way – by getting involved in these activities, by encouraging children to play with other kids of same age group, or by letting them enjoy solitary play.
This can be done in the following ways:
- By letting the kids’ interests take the centre stage when it comes to deciding what to play with.
- By creating a safe space with dedicated time so that the child is free to explore and express themselves.
- By encouraging outdoor play, as it helps children develop healthier immune systems.
- By allowing some quiet time concept where the child may engage in solitary play.
- By respecting the child’s autonomy while engaging in playtime activities with them.
- By moving past the conventional pressure of getting your kids to excel academically while completely ignoring their playtime.
- By conducting activities like roleplay or talent show wherein the entire family can engage and have fun together, creating lasting memories.
Allowing children to have dedicated time for free play not only helps boost their overall growth, but is in every way a basic right for every child says Radha Kapoor Khanna. Childhood is the foundation to the rest of a child’s life, and parental encouragement and engagement in playtime activities only solidifies that foundation.