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Play power

“Helicopter parents” are a widespread phenomenon these days. They are those parents who hover close by their child at all times. There are some good reasons why helicopter parents occurred in the modern environment but they might be having some negative effects. A parent nearby restricts “free play” and the evidence is that this is not good for the kids.

Recently a series of articles have been published that have examined the consequences of the continued decline in free play time for children in developed nations.

One study highlighted a correlation between the decline of free play and the rise in depression, narcissism, and suicide in children and teenagers.

Another study highlighted the value of children playing freely with children of other ages. Most of a child’s time is spent in same-age groups these days but that may not be optimal for their development. During mixed age play older children provide behavioural “scaffolds” for younger children. These scaffolds raise the level of the younger child’s play and stretch their abilities in areas such as language, maths, and sociability. The benefit for the older child is an increased capacity to nurture, lead, and learn by teaching.

Additionally, without free outdoor play kids are prone to obesity, poor general health, and underdeveloped social skills. In an evolutionary sense, play has helped the young build strong bones and muscles, promoted cardiovascular fitness, refined communication, assisted with emotional regulation, and broadened their perspective.

Finally, engaging in rule-governed play promotes gamesmanship which has been linked to the development of human intelligence.

So parents, while that helicopter might be fuelled by love, it might be time to return to the heli-parent-pad, chill out, have a coffee, and let the children play.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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