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HELP FOR THE FAMILY | PARENTING

The Benefits of Creative Play

 The term “creative play” refers to recreation that stimulates curiosity and imagination, thus contributing to child development and manual skills.

 Examples include:

  •   Drawing

  •   Baking

  •   Playing make-believe

  •   Singing

  •   Using building blocks

  •   Playing with simple objects (even a cardboard box can inspire the imagination)

 In many lands, creative play has largely been replaced by passive entertainment and organized activities.

 Should you be concerned?

 What you should know

  •   Creative play can contribute to child development. It can promote physical and mental health, creativity, and social skills. It can also teach children to be patient, to improve their decision-making skills, to control their emotions, and to get along with others when playing with a group. In short, creative play can help prepare children for adulthood.

  •   Overexposure to electronic media can be harmful. Too much exposure to digital media can be addictive, and exposure to too much of it has been linked to childhood obesity and aggressive behavior—a warning to parents who use electronic media as a babysitter to occupy their preschoolers.

  •   Regulated activities have drawbacks. When children are ferried from one structured activity to another, they are deprived of much-needed time to engage in the kind of free play that will boost their curiosity and creativity.

 What you can do

  •   Provide opportunities for creative play. As circumstances permit, let your children spend time outdoors so they can get acquainted with nature. Allow them to pursue hobbies and to play with toys that nurture creativity. *

     To think about: What qualities and skills can creative play help my child develop, and how may he or she benefit later in life?

     Bible principle: “Physical exercise is beneficial.”—1 Timothy 4:8, footnote.

  •   Limit screen time. Think twice before letting a phone, tablet, or TV babysit your child. Pediatricians recommend no screen use for children under the age of two and no more than an hour a day for children between the ages of two and five. *

     To think about: What limits can I set on screen time for my child? Should I watch with my child? What are good alternatives to electronic media?

     Bible principle: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, making the best use of your time.”—Ephesians 5:15, 16.

  •   Carefully weigh organized programs. True, they can enhance your child’s proficiency in a skill or a sport. Often, though, too many organized activities add stress—not only to the child but also to the parent who may be responsible for providing transportation. Of course, the principle at Ephesians 5:15, 16 about wise use of time applies here too.

     To think about: Are my children overscheduled with structured activities? If so, what adjustments could we make?

     Bible principle: “Make sure of the more important things.”—Philippians 1:10.

^ Many manufactured toys leave little room for creativity. In contrast, simple toys or objects, from building blocks to cardboard boxes, allow a child to use his or her imagination.

^ “Screen time” refers to entertainment, not such things as videoconferencing with loved ones or enjoying spiritual programs with the family.