As your little one crawls and stumbles towards their first birthday, they will start needing more and more of your love and support to keep on growing. While providing food, love and care is important, the activities you do during the time you spend with your toddler in their formative years will also make a huge difference in their lives.
Keeping your little one happy doesn't require too much of effort most of the time. Short bouts of play can keep children happy, but apart from these joyful moments of fun you share, playing is a crucial form of learning and development for your child. So, let's talk about the benefits of playing.
Can playtime actually help my child?
YES! There are no two words about it. It is a definite and resounding YES! When your little child starts playing, it helps their physical, mental and emotional development. However, when we say play, we do not mean to enrol them in professional sports just yet! There are two main types of play – active and creative, each with their own remarkable benefits.
Active Play Benefits
Boosts Oxygen Intake
Active playing such as getting your little one to try to catch or chase a ball will allow them to move according to their own speed and ability. This will not only put a smile on their face but will also get plenty of oxygen inside of their bodies! When their bodies are well oxygenated, this will greatly boost both their physical and mental development.
Mums always complain about their child’s eating habits. "My little one doesn't eat, it is a big headache to me" is a common saying from all mums. One of the main reasons for this lack of appetite could simply be due to your child not getting enough activity in between mealtimes. As a busy mum trying to finish off your responsibipties, you may keep your child entertained by allowing them to watch something on TV or keep them in a corner till you finish your routine. Unfortunately, this means that your child doesn't get enough activity to digest the food you already fed them a couple of hours ago. Getting your child to play will not only keep them happy and entertained, but it will also burn calories so that they will become more hungry regularly.
Develops Physical Strength
If there is not enough space for your little one to run and jump in the house, you can take them to a nearby park or garden where they can play to their heart's content. Grassy fields or parks are a great place to run around in because even if your child falls, they will not get hurt. Running strengthens your child's muscles while catching a ball will enhance hand and eye coordination. If there are swings and see-saws available, get your child to play on them. This fun activity is a good way to exercise their hands, feet and abdomen.
However, think about this. We eat to live; we do not live to eat. Therefore, as parents it should be ideal to keep in mind that eating is a task done in a disciplined manner and that a cultured child can be identified by the way they eat.
Creative Play Benefits
Develops Thinking, Creativity and Imagination
In general, little girls love spending time with dolls. You will observe them imitating the behaviors they have seen and learnt from interacting with you. Whether it is feeding their little dolly son/daughter or dressing them up, they are experts in copying what they themselves have experienced. This type of play helps your child become creative and allows them to share and express ideas. The next time you look at your little girl or boy playing with dolls or similar toys remember that this is actually a great way that your little one can develop their thinking, creativity and imagination.
Children love playing outside in the sand and they love ‘play’ cooking. Traditionally in Sri Lanka “Kompittu” has been a form of ‘play’ cooking using sand, water and coconut shells. Although parents tend to worry when their child plays with the sand, it is important to not let this fear stop him or her from doing so. If you feel the sand outside is not clean, then you can try and create an area with clean sand with which they can play in. Playing with sand will help your little ones develop their finger movements and coordination. Not only that, you will see the great joy and pride they will have after seeing their beautiful “Kompittu”. This will give them the confidence to try making more creative “Kompittu”.
Enhances Memory and Grasping of Concepts
After your child passes 1 1/2 years (18 months) you can introduce building blocks and jigsaw puzzles in their playtime. At first, you will need to teach your child how to play and have fun with them. As you do so, you will realize that they will start picking up tips and tricks they observed you doing and come up with their own short cuts. Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to help boost your little one’s memory, coordination and grasping of concepts. These types of games will also help your little one learn to play and do things by themselves.
Keep an eye out on your child's ability to maneuver and play with building blocks. If they continuously struggle after some time it could be an early indication of autism or hyperactivity of kids. Autism is a sickness that hinders the growth of certain important brain functions. An autistic child will be less proficient in talking, playing or dealing with others. This type of play can help parents observe any early deficiencies in their child.
Playing is not just about fun, it is your child's way of growing up and has numerous benefits. While these activities will help your child stay happy and grow, it might also free your inner child and will also be of immense benefit for you!