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Are children playing enough today? Play is fun, but childhood play has many other ‘serious’ benefits, and children today are missing out on those.
I recently read some advice on bringing up children. It said we need to bring them up like pet dogs – feed them, water them and get them to play outside every day!
I am sure each one of us would have played a lot outdoors as a child. Hopscotch, hide and seek, seven stones, skipping a rope, Gilli danda, rolling the marbles…..or the simple running and catching!
But…are your children playing enough?
In the year 1966, a mass murder shocked the city of Texas. One morning, Charles Whitman walked up to the tower overlooking his University campus and for the next 3 hours, he simply shot from the tower killing 17 and wounding 41 students! Dr. Stuart Brown, a leading psychiatrist, worked on his case and many other similar homicidal cases. The research study reveals an extremely sober and tragic life,with no friends or play in the lives of such mass murderers.
Dr. Stuart Brown later founded the National Institute of Play, in California. He says there is active presence of play in childhood and as an adult in the lives of the very successful people but he also identifies the extremely negative consequences of a play-deprived life.
A recent research reveals that 6 out of 10 children in Asia, play alone and 45% of the children do not play every day. I don’t see any of our childhood games on the streets or parks now. Instead, I see children going from one extra curricular class to another, children glued to the TV or addicted to the other gadgets. What amuses me is that most of the time, children and parents don’t know what to do with each other!
The top 3 reasons:
Busy parents do not find time to supervise their children playing outside or we are concerned with the safety of our children playing outside our houses. Parents are more self-conscious and competitive than in the past, pushing their kids to excel and free play loses out.
According to the writer and play therapist, Brian Sutton- Smith, “The opposite of play is not work. It is depression”. How profoundly does free play help a child?
Children are happier, healthier and smarter when they play outdoors. They grow up to be such adults too.
Dr. Stuart Brown’s findings are shocking but it makes us understand the importance of outdoor play for children. Today, there are reasons why playtime is almost going extinct. However tough our schedules are, we need to ensure that there is more sunshine and less screen time for our children.
There are simple do-able steps, which we can do for our children, to create outdoor play times.
The world will not be saved by high test scores or by the gold medals. What is needed is the focus on the kinds of human beings that we are bringing up.
As George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”
Image of girl playing via Shutterstock
Archana was raised in Chennai and lives in Dubai.She was a banking professional for
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