Take any child who has been actively playing for an hour or two and you will see the true meaning of exhaustion. Playing is a form of exercise. Typical play involves running around, climbing on things, riding a bike, stomping in mud puddles, or chasing a pet. Yet, how many children who do spend an hour or two actively playing are pictures of health, both mentally and physically.
As with any adult, children need their exercise. Exercise helps keep a child fit. He or she will find they can sleep more easily, awaken feeling refreshed, score better on quizzes, and feel filled with energy. Play time as a child helps instill the foundations for a lifetime of healthy choices. A fit child is one who spends a good portion of his or her day actively doing something that involves movement. Not only does that exercise create a healthy body and a healthy mind, but it also teaches a child how to interact with both him or herself and others.
By playing together, children learn how to read another child's body language. They learn how to handle disagreements, resolve issues, and interact politely. These are all lessons that will last a lifetime. School settings are excellent for learning to play together, but some teachers interfere when a troublesome issue occurs. It is best to let children attempt to resolve these issues by themselves before adults interfere.
Organized sports are perhaps the most popular form of play in a child's life. Soccer, baseball, and flag football all help a child to stay in shape while also teaching important lessons from sharing to resolving anger to teamwork. All of these qualities will help shape a child into a polite, respectable adult. Another sport that is very popular with kids and adults alike is tennis. It is a sport that can be played from a very young age without being overly succeptible to injuries.
While it is tempting for an adult to set limits for a child, it is often best to let the child decide when enough is enough. If allowed to choose his or her capabilities from a young age, a child will often learn to set manageable limits. These choices last well into adulthood. The dangers of pushing him or her too hard are virtually eliminated.
In today's world, it is tempting to force a child to get chores done, finish homework, and clean his or her bedroom. School days are becoming longer and homework and chores are keeping children from having any time for play. This needs to stop!
Doctors and scientists are now finding that keeping a child from playtime is actually causing troublesome issues. They feel this may be part of the reason for the drastic rise in ADHD. Children need time to burn off their energy in free play with minimal interference from an adult.
Allow your child to play as desired. Also, within reason, allow your child to set his or her own limits. By allowing a child the freedom to choose, you are helping that child learn valuable skills that will last a lifetime.
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Beach, Florida. Find more about this as well as a tennis racquets at
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