Image credit: Photo by Thiago Cerqueira on Unsplash
It’s no secret that we Americans are more stressed out than ever, especially children. We can blame it on social media, tech devices, what have you, but one thing is for sure, there is a lot of pressure on kids to do and be their best at all times. Research has shown that that play can actually help combat stress in children. “According to a recent clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is fundamentally important for developing 21st century skills, including social, emotional, language and social. The AAP recommends play for children to buffer toxic stress, build parental relationships, and improve executive functioning.”
I remember what it was like to be a kid many moons ago. I wanted grownups, especially my family and friends to play games! My grandma remembers me cheating at board games, which I still deny. To this day my mom and I talk about the time we were playing baseball with my brother when he was about four years old. She told him to run home, and he started crying because he thought she was telling him to go home. It’s memories like those that I never forget, well, except me cheating at Monopoly!
I’ll admit I’m not the best at board games, cards or video games – just ask my grandma, mom or my aunt! That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them. In fact, I look forward to them! Playtime is something that is not just important, it’s crucial for kids. It doesn’t just help them in their youth, it’ll be beneficial throughout their lives. When I’m stressed out, I know that playing sports, a board game or just going for a long walk with my dog or a friend will help me relax and feel better. Play is a healthy coping mechanism for kids and adults of all ages.
Adrienne Appell, is The Toy Association’s Senior Director. She joined me for an interview recently to discuss why play is so important for kids and their development. Adrienne also dished on how parents can encourage their children to play more and how they can get involved. The month of May is “Play All May” month which is the first-ever-month-long celebration of play. It is spearheaded by The Genius of Play, a nonprofit initiative by The Toy Association. Please be sure to watch my interview with Adrienne below for more information! I also transcribed the interview, so you can read it at anytime and share it with family and friends.
Image credit: Photo by Anna Samoylova on Unsplash
Why Unstructured Play Is Important For Kids Wellbeing
Candie Anderson: Why is play so important to kids and their development?
Adrienne Appell: “The Genius of Play initiative is really created to remind parents and caregivers of the importance of unstructured play and what benefits kids are receiving through play.
We’re often always so over scheduled and you’re rushing from one activity to the next. You’re trying to make dinner and get homework done. Usually the first things you fall off is that unstructured playtime.
The ‘Play All May’ month is here to incorporate play everyday for families. We are writing kids a prescription for play, and we’re hoping that families will join us in having play everyday for the entire month of May.”
How To Encourage Kids To Play More
Candie Anderson: Do you have any tips on how to get kids more active and playing more?
Adrienne Appell: “If you can visit the GeniusofPlay.org where you’re going to learn about all the benefits, as well as activities that will correspond to each benefit. Just off the top of my head is don’t look at it as a daunting task. Make sure that you can carve out a little bit of time. It doesn’t need to be an hour chunk of playtime. It can be something as simple as doing a word game when you’re in the car driving to basketball practice or it could be playing dress up while you’re making dinner. Throw on a princess tiara and you could be the queen while your kid creates a magical kingdom in the living room. It doesn’t need to be a big deal. It just needs to be fun.”
How Parents and Grandparents Can Get Involved In Playtime
Candie Anderson: What are some signs that parents should look for? How do they know if their child needs more playtime?
Adrienne Appell: “Every kid could use a bit more play in their daily life. Incorporate, like I said those little chunks on the weekends and the summertime you can devote a little more time.
Play is great because it also brings together different generations. Board games and puzzles are a great example for honing on kids social skills. They can teach kids cooperation and they can teach them how to take turns. For older kids it’s going to start to teach them strategy.
This is something you can do on a family game night or even on vacation – take it on the road with you this summer. Also, as the weather gets nicer that physical outdoor play is so crucial to kids development. It’s going to teach them different skills and it’s also going to alleviate stress.
It could be playing a game of catch in the backyard. I like to carry around chalk and bubbles in my purse. Sometimes if you’re eating dinner at an outside cafe, you can have your kids coloring on the sidewalk and just blowing some bubbles. You can incorporate moments into things you’re already doing.”
Image credit: Steven Libralon
How To Find More Information
Candie Anderson: Do you have any additional tips or information that you would like to share with us?
Adrienne Appell: “For more tips and information you can visit the GeniusOfPlay.org.”
Senior Director, Strategic Communications, The Toy Association
As the Toy Association’s senior director of strategic communications and a mother of two, Adrienne Appell stays abreast of what’s new, next, and cutting-edge in the world of toys and play.
Adrienne is interviewed frequently by national and local consumer and business media on toy trends and play-related topics. In addition to regular reports on local New York-metro area networks, her media interviews include Good Morning America, WABC-TV, WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, Good Day New York (FOX), NY-1, Reuters, the Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times. She is also responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with the media, including bloggers and other social media contacts.
Adrienne has more than a decade of experience in the toy/youth industry. Prior to joining The Toy Association, she worked in the corporate communications division of Scholastic, Inc. Adrienne began her career at the global public relations agency Weber Shandwick, working on client accounts such as Kodak, Disney, and Compaq computers.