Kids & Unstructured Play: Why Children Need Downtime for Mental Health & Learning Life Skills! by Rae Pica

Kids Tip of the Day
8 months ago
Kids & Unstructured Play: Why Children Need Downtime for Mental Health & Learning Life Skills!

A child with downtime will engage in authentic play (self-chosen, self-directed and without extrinsic goals) alone and with others. Because play employs divergent thinking (a much-needed 21st-century skill), his problem-solving abilities will grow. If he has the time to carry out his plans and bring them to a conclusion, he’ll experience the satisfaction that comes from thinking things through and working them out.

A child without downtime will never learn to entertain herself and will never be able to live inside her own head. To deal with solitude or quiet time – essential for problem-solving, resiliency and restoration – she may feel she absolutely has to be in the company of others, even panicking at the idea of keeping herself amused.

When children's lives are scheduled and completely directed by adults, all they really learn to do is follow directions and do as they're told. If we want children to grow up to be resourceful, they have to start practicing now. That means they must have plenty of unstructured time during which they get to choose what they'd like to do – even if that means doing nothing!

Get more tips at RaePica.com!

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Mike Prochaska
Excited to see That Rae decided to come write a tip about importance of unstructured play. This an awesome tip that I couldn’t agree more about
Rae Pica
Thanks, Mike! I know we're on the same page where play is concerned! :)
Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Spot on, Rae Pica ! There's so much pressure on kids (and parents) to keep going going going and practicing and excelling at so many things. When are they supposed to play and learn to figure things out on their own? I love this. So glad you have joined our community of writers. Welcome, and we look forward to more from you!
Rae Pica
Thank you, Elisa! I'm glad to be part of the 30Seconds family. Have just watched a segment on Good Morning America about the pressure middle school girls feel to be perfect. Much of that pressure, they said, comes from parental expectations. So sad! We have to let kids be kids! They only get the one chance!
AJ Rogers
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for this! I remember reading somewhere long ago that when we are bored is when we use our imagination and that sometimes leads us to what truly interests us!
Rae Pica
Exactly!! Kids have so many ready-made images these days -- between TV, YouTube, and apps -- I worry that they'll never need to create any in their own heads!

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