Hooga lessons for life: Why you should encourage your child to play more
Remember what your favorite game was when you were little? I loved playing with marbles. Hours would pass and I did not realize how entertaining it was to hit those crystal balls and compete against my friends to see which one had a better aim. Some time ago, I had the opportunity to acquire a book called “The Danish Way of Parenting” that helped me modify my way of being as a dad in many aspects. This practical book has become one of the main tools for the development of Hooga Dad. The author, Jessica Joelle Alexander, offers a guide of upbringing through which the Danes have managed to develop one of the most advanced societies in the world and have become the happiest country on the planet. Do you want to know what one of the greatest secrets for Danish children to develop in this way is? Well, nothing more and nothing less than PLAY. In fact, playing is so important in Denmark that until not long ago, children did not start school before age 7 with the purpose of having developed, through playing, basic skills such as the gross and fine motor skills and coordination.
Unfortunately, our social model is different. Our busy lifestyles and professional demands often lead us to replace our children’s playtime with other extracurricular activities, which, although they are beneficial to the child, do not necessarily cover all the aspects that playing does. A good example of how playing benefits children is in is in its unique ability to reduce anxiety.
Helps reduce stress
One of the greatest benefits that children receive from playing is resilience or adaptation to difficult circumstances. The ability to fall, get up and continue, to control emotions and to manage anxiety when, for example, your child is losing in a game with his friends, is essential for the eventual development of a healthy and functional adult. In addition, the kid learns not to give up and try again. It helps you to create self-confidence and willingness. On the other hand, playing serves to encourage interactions with other children.
Contributes to building confidence and reducing shyness
All children are different and have distinct personalities. Some are extroverted, talkative and vivacious, while others are quiet and withdrawn. The act of facing other children and being forced to interact with them, as a part of the game, helps them to shed their shyness and develop more confidence. I am sure that, at times, you have invited friends to your home, and when they came in with their child, she was extremely shy and after they left, she started crying because she wanted to continue playing with your children. Kids love to spend time with each other.
It teaches them to solve problems and create independence
I’m sure that you all know what Legos are, those colorful pieces that allow us to create different things using our imagination. Do you have an idea where these blocks came from? You guessed it: Denmark. They were developed by a carpenter in 1932. Considered as the best toy created in the 20th century according to Forbes magazine, these pieces contribute to the child’s thinking, analysis, and execution. Does not that not sound like part of the process we have to do to face the situations of daily life? Though, in addition to this, games of this type give children the opportunity to enjoy their space and not depend on anyone to distract themselves. In this sense, not only does it help the children, but it also provides a space of tranquility for the parents as well. I am pretty sure most of us need this.
We live in a highly competitive society that considers playing as something sterile and unworthy. Schools increasingly demand more from children and therefore, from parents. I often talk with friends who complain about the high volume of work they give their children and the lack of time they have to share as a family. However, playing, of which I do not mean electronic games, offers children the opportunity to strengthen several aspects for their future development as adults and gives us the opportunity to share with them. I am sure that many of the best memories we have are from the games we played during our childhood. Let’s encourage this important activity in our children’s lives. Let’s go and play!