It is well documented in any parenting book or website that play is important for early child development, it is known to help them academically and socially but did you know play is also known for its benefits on teenager’s emotional well-being?
As children get older society often does not place the same value on play as in the early years. The need of play is as important in adolescence as it is in early childhood. The type of play differs from toddlers to teenagers.
Play is important for several reasons in the teenage years. A great deal of brain development happens during adolescence, this shapes them into the adults they will become. Play enriches this developmental stage and helps the brain build positive connections.
Secondly play is also important for teenager’s emotional well-being in the short and long term. Play reduces stress and helps release the feel good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. These hormones are known to be good for mental health. In the long term this allows teenagers brains to become more regulated. Play also allows teenagers the opportunity to problem solve and begin conflict resolution.
Hobbies are really good for teenagers, and can give them positive role models something that is also really beneficence during the teenage year.
Why are Teenagers not always getting the opportunity to ‘play’?
One of the main causes for teenagers missing out on play is gaming and social media, this will come as no surprise! Both are not only bad for reducing play and exercise opportunities but are also linked to poor mental health and sleep if not used in moderation. Ideally we need to set time limits on gaming and social media to ensure children are not spending all their free time on electronic devices. Ideally as parents we need to regulate our own use of social media and gaming too.
For some adolescence’s parents fill their teenagers time with after school activities – which of course have their own benefits but there needs to be a balance.
Play works best if it is self-led, if the activity is not chosen by the individual it may not have the same benefits.
It is also important that teenagers see that we as adults take time to engage in activities we find enjoyable, seeing that we make time for our own self-care will make them more likely to value self-care in themselves too.
It is also really important not to rush children to grow up or to discard toys too quickly. Children will often become self-conscious of their play and if they feel we are judging them, they may stop before they need to.
What do teenagers play with?
For teenagers play can take many forms.
- Den building.
- Board games or card games.
- Clay is often irresistible, to teenagers and (Adults).
- Hide and seek
- Geo- caching
- Scavenger hunt
So let your teenager enjoy playing and support them to do so.
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