Playful Parenting

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In today's fast-paced digital era, the importance of playtime for children is increasingly dominated by the existence of electronic gadgets. While these devices provide convenience and entertainment, they inadvertently encroach upon the essential, unstructured playtime critical for children's holistic development. This shift has profound implications, impacting not only the children but also family dynamics and societal well-being. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF, only 17 per cent of fathers engage in activities such as playing, singing, and talking with their children aged 24 to 59 months. In contrast 42.1 per cent of mothers dedicate time to these interactions. 


Furthermore, 25 per cent pf children are growing up with inadequate supervision from their guardians.   These figures highlight a significant gap in parental involvement, which is vital for children's emotional and cognitive growth. The situation is exacerbated by the limited availability of outdoor spaces, particularly in urban areas, which restricts children's opportunities for physical play. A 2022 study by the government’s Education Review Office found that only 6 per cent of private schools and 19 per cent of community schools provide adequate play spaces for preschool children. This lack of infrastructure compounds the problem, leaving children with few alternatives to screen time.


Moreover, insights from LEGO's "Play Well Study 2014" reveal that children themselves are yearning for more playtime. On average, three in five children wish to play more, and four in five express a desire to play more with their parents and caregivers. Alarmingly, eight out of ten children feel that adults do not always value play or understand its importance in their learning and development. The United Nations General Assembly has taken a commendable step by designating June 11 as the International Day of Play, to response to this global issue. This initiative highlights the critical role of play in promoting education, development and well-being of children worldwide. The concerned authorities need to raise awareness and advocate for policies, training, and funding to integrate play into educational and community settings. 


The theme of the day, 'Promise of Playful Parenting, 'emphasises the need for parents to actively engage in playful activities with their children, fostering strong bonds and enhancing communication. Parents can engage with their children in various activities like, building blocks, playing hide and seek, solving puzzles together which would help them in developing critical thinking skills, language development and learning various aspects helpful for lifetime.  Playful parenting not only benefits children but also improves the mental health and well-being of parents and caregivers. It strengthens parenting skills and naturally reduces the reliance on screen for entertainment. When children engaged in play, their curiosity is sparked, and their creativity grows. 


The World Health Organisation (WHO) also endorses the value of play, recommending 15-30 minutes of play engagement daily as a part of recovery from undernutrition. This reinforces the idea that play is not a mere leisure activity but a vital component of healthy development. As per these findings, it is imperative for parents, educators, and policymakers to recognise and address barriers to play. Parents need to take out time from their busy schedules to engage in meaningful play with their children. Schools and communities should prioritise creating and maintaining safe, accessible play spaces. Policymakers must advocate for and implement supportive policies that promote play as an integral part of childhood development.

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