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The Positive Impact of Play on Kids’ Mental Health

Most parents know that play is one of the best ways for kids to learn. Not only that, but it also has a positive impact on their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Studies show that mental health has been worsening among children as a result of the emotional toll of the pandemic and stress from school, family issues, or changes in routine. Play is a great tool for stress relief! It allows children to express their emotions, fears, worries, or concerns, and to process what’s going on around them.

Screen-free play options are the most effective in supporting healthy emotional development. Here are a few playful activities to boost your kids’ mental health:

Board games: fun family games will help relieve stress and build relationships between kids and their parents and caregivers. If your kid is fascinated by a certain topic, find a game about it. If your preschooler loves watering plants and watching them grow, introduce them to sustainable agriculture with our Eating in Season game. At the next family meal, they’ll be excited to tell everyone which veggies grow best in each season. Learning more about a specific subject will help them feel like an expert and build their confidence!

Many of Adventerra’s games have both competitive and cooperative elements.  These board games are a wonderful way to build social skills, and to build a sense of teamwork and cooperation among siblings and friends.  For example, in WaterGame, each player tries to win by saving the most water. But if anyone runs dry, everyone loses – so kids must work together to keep the community water tank full. In Global Warning, each player tries to win by matching the most problem and solution cards, but smart players quickly realize they must join forces to beat the game and save the world.

Pretend play: acting out stories and pretending to be different characters gives kids a great emotional outlet for their feelings and an opportunity to work through situations they might be anxious about.  Pretending with a parent also builds connection, but it can be difficult for an adult to enjoy pretending with a child for very long. A few tips to make it more fun for both of you:

Outdoor play: physical activity releases endorphins that increase happiness, and helps children build self-esteem and manage anxiety.  Because it engages all their senses, it also tires them out, so they sleep better. Outdoor play can mean signing up for an intense soccer season, but it can also mean a half hour of running in the backyard hose before bath time, or a minute to step outside and watch a flock of honking geese go by.  All the time outdoors will add up to a happier, healthier child!