Limiting Children’s Physical Movement Fuels Challenging Behaviors
We are all aware that exercising is good for our health. Everyone knows it’s better to walk rather than take a cab, to take the stairs rather than the elevator, and to park your car further away to get a little more exercise every day. The importance of exercise and movement extends far beyond weight control and heart health. Exercise has also been shown to have a range of mental and emotional benefits.
Children require physical activity just as much as, if not more than, adults. Allowing children time and space for unstructured play is critical to their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
What prevents kids from playing?
Free playtime for children has been steadily decreasing in recent years. This is due to a variety of factors, some of which are unsurprising. The increased use of technology is an obvious reason, as many children would rather play with iPads or video games than go outside. While technology can be a valuable educational tool, it can also be damaging when it replaces physical play.
Hovering parents are an unexpected impediment to children’s free play. Parents who are well-intentioned tend to structure more of their children’s free time, filling their days with scheduled activities that may or may not involve any outside or playing. Even still, the games are mostly regimented team sports with little potential for innovation or discovery.
Exercise and free play help to alleviate anxiety and despair.
Free play and time spent outside are not only physically good for children, but they also boost their enjoyment and general well-being. Just as the amount of time children spend playing has declined over time, so have the rates of anxiety, sadness, and even suicide among children.
Free play, especially outside, has been shown to improve children’s mental health. This is due in part to the fact that during playing, the brain must transfer its energy from worrying to coordination and other purposes. Exercise alters the chemistry of the brain, as well as the activity and routes of neurotransmitters that keep youngsters happy and healthy.
Physical activity enhances academic performance and behavior.
Exercise not only keeps kids physically healthy and happy, but it also improves their academic performance and helps with behavioral issues. One obvious reason for this is that when children are given time and space to burn off energy outside of the classroom, they are better equipped to sit and pay attention. It is critical for children to have an outlet and a release for their energy. Exercise also improves mental attentiveness. An active body can aid in stimulating an active mind, resulting in improved grades, test scores, and overall school performance. It also teaches children how to communicate with one another, develop social skills, and solve problems together.
Allowing children time and space for spontaneous play and exploration can do wonders for their physical, mental, and emotional health. It also aids in their cognitive and social development, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Free play has been shown to improve school performance as well as prevent and reduce behavioral issues. Adults must incorporate free play time into children’s schedules to keep them happy and healthy.