When kids play, they are not just having fun. Play allows kids to try out new ways of being, behaving, thinking, and feeling. When kids play, they are allowed to break out of established patterns and experiment with being a new self with new ways of interacting with the world. Even as adults, it is through play that we flex the reality of our day to day.
One of the important aspects of incorporating play in your child’s day relates to his or her developing the ability to self-regulate emotions and behaviors. When kids have the ability to self-regulate, they are in control of their emotions and behaviors, and they can resist impulses more easily.
Make-believe play, for example, encourages what some would call self-talk, or private speech. When playing make-believe, kids talk to themselves about what they are going to do next and how they may do it. Some researchers propose that it’s during the preschool years when self-regulating language is at its peak during make-believe play.
Self-talk or private speech isn’t just for kids and their self-control, however. As adults we use the same kind of conversation with ourselves to get through hard times, master new skills, or manage our emotions.
Play is an important part of every day. Go play!