When we randomly ask our kids what do they want to do, an automatic answer we will get is play. Because for them, play or playing is life! And play actually defines their meaning of fun.
As parents, we know that playing is not just about fun. We allow our kids to play not just because kids enjoy doing it but because there’s so much about playing that helps our kids develop their physical, emotional, intellectual and social skills.
Running. Jumping. Climbing. Sliding. Laughing. Yelling. All of these involve physical movements. As our kids play, they develop their motor skills (fine and gross), balance and flexibility. Physical activities also make our kid’s muscles and bones stronger, thus, making them healthier and fit.
Through play, our kids develop their self-confidence and self-esteem. It is also through play that they experience different emotions.
Climbing a slide on their own and then sliding down victoriously makes our kids feel proud of themselves. Finishing a set of building blocks brings a feeling of fulfillment to our children. It makes them happy and confident to discover that they can do things on their own. Yes, simple plays like these easily enhance our kid’s positive emotions. On the other hand, these simple plays can also make our kid’s heart break into pieces. When they slip and fell on the ground, when their Lego crush after spending so much of their time building it or when another kid grab a toy that they also wanted to play with, a cloud of different emotions instantly emerges. Different emotions like sadness, disappointment or even anger come out suddenly when scenarios like these happen. Yet, it is also through these situations that our kids learn to handle their emotions no matter how young they are. And of course, we, as parents, are always there to guide them and help them understand their emotions rightly.
Playing alone or playing with other kids, playing at home or playing outdoors, it all enhances our kid’s intellectual skills in many ways. Mind games and outdoor plays help our kids learn to strategize on their own and solve different problems no matter how small it is. Playing with others enhances our kid’s communication skills. Playing alone and playing pretend put our kid’s creativity and imagination in a different level. It also enhances our kid’s independence.
Play greatly contribute to our kid’s social skills. Through this, our children learn to be cooperative, giving, loving and appreciative. They start to have friends and through this, they learn how to get along with others. They also start to notice their similarities and differences from others and make them gradually understand that each kid has different personalities.
The recent McDonald’s ad “Laging Mahal Ni Nanay At Tatay” brought me down memory lane. I remember how my husband and I struggled to give our daughter social security to the best that we can because she is different physically. Our daughter, Nicki, has infantile strawberry hemangioma.
Nicki is a normal kid but she has a strawberry patch (hemangioma) on her lower lip. Strawberry hemangioma is a kind of birthmark that is composed of collections of blood vessels which make the birthmark very red and raised from the skin. And since it is raised, the birthmark is very visible and noticeable. People who see her usually ask questions like “What happened to her lips?” or “Did she slip on the floor and hurt her lips?” We just politely answer them “it’s just birthmark.” The patch is really noticeable that even strangers ask us what happend to her. And it bothered us. Though Nicki’s hemangioma doesn’t have any health complications, the real problem or should I say worry that it give us are the threats it poses on the social well-being of our kid. The doctor said that having this birthmark may cause insecurities and low self-esteem to our daughter. Worst, she may get bullied by playmates and schoolmates when she enters school. But as parents, our role is to help our kids process every experience they encounter. Most especially the differences they come across with when they interact with other kids whether in school or at play. Our job as parents is to teach our kids to appreciate their own selves and value their uniqueness from others. We are here to help them understand that even though each kid is different, each one is important and loved.
The story of our daughter is not very dramatic but still not far from being considered as different. We started bumpy but I am glad to share with everyone that my husband and I have come to believe that we did well in this battle. Our Nicki has now grown to be a happy, active and confident kid. She tops in school, joins competitions and she has lots of friends. Yes, the birthmark is still there but with so much prayer, proper guidance, and a lot of love and assurance, the mark that lives in her now are all good and happy ones.