Play Promotes a Child's Well Being
When caregivers spend time with their children, they may primarily meet basic needs. It is important for them to consider the quality of these times and other informal interactions. Through high quality interactions, caregivers have the power to influence their child’s well-being, as well as have the opportunity to model desired behaviors, specifically social behaviors. A child who is able to exist in and contribute to healthy relationships with adult caregivers have been shown to perform better in school and are able to proactively cope with stressors.
Caregivers can apply high quality interactions – nurturing, responsive and supportive behaviors – during feeding, diapering and even play. However, they may not know how to play with their child in a way that is social-emotionally beneficial.
There are different types of play caregivers can use to help their child build intra- and interpersonal relationships that will help them navigate various situations, emotions and experiences, including stressful situations.
Activities that include role-play allow children to confront their emotions in a safe way. This type of play also gives children the opportunity to practice skills like caring for others, solving
problems and understanding perspectives of others.
This type of play includes rhyming games, exploring poetry and music. Linguistic play allows caregivers to introduce children to words that will help them express their needs, wants and feelings, and describe and appreciate their unique qualities as well as others’. It also gives caregivers a peek into their child’s concept of themselves that can help them in assuring their child develops a healthy self-concept.
This type of play requires sharing of materials, taking turns and cooperation; board games, dramatic play and block play are some examples. Through this type of play, children
learn to build trusting and cooperative relationships with others. They also learn how to solve problems, deal with delayed gratification, practice language, and enhance their understanding of cause and effect.
Regardless what type of play a caregiver and child engage in, caregivers play an important role as nurturer and guide.
When choosing an activity it is important that both caregiver and child have a say in what activity to engage in together.
Allowing children to have different types of experiences fosters their development and plays a part in securing their long-term success.
Vanderbilt-Adriance E, Shaw DS.
Protective Factors and the Development of Resilience in the Context of Neighborhood Disadvantage. Journal
of Abnormal Child Psychology.