“A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men”* – why family fun is crucial for growing happy, healthy kids
When parents think about ways to grow their children’s brains and emotional wellbeing, they often overlook one of the most basic, yet most effective options: play! Neuroscientists have found that exploring new experiences, especially those which combine social, physical, cognitive and sensory interactions, “fertilises” the brain to encourage brain growth and maturation. Play improves problem-solving abilities, and encourages creativity and risk-taking. Outdoor play has the additional benefits of lowering stress hormone levels.
Play as a family has even wider benefits. Parents who engage in fun activities with their children are building self-esteem and feelings of connection and belonging. Hanging out together and engaging in child-led, mutually enjoyable activities sends the clear message: “you have my full attention. I delight in you” – crucial in building strong connections. Research has found that families who take time out together create strong happy memories. When times get tough in the future, these positive shared experiences are drawn on to help families maintain their strength and get through.
These opportunities are even more valuable in balancing out our busy, distracted daily lives.
It is so important for us to take time out together. To take the time to notice, really notice, how your small people are growing, changing and developing their own personalities. Delight in them, soak up their giggles and glee, and reap the rewards!
*Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory