Does your child play enough?


‘Playing is how your child gets to know himself and his environment’

Undoubtedly, playing is one of the significant occupations of pre-school, as well as school-age children. However, we often engage our children in ‘academic activities’, resulting in them being deprived of play, which, for them, is a creative pleasure, as well as an expression, an outlet for their excessive energy. Playing, of course, together with school activities, has excellent results. All children play, but the question is, are they playing correctly? Parents should not just be rest assured that their child is playing; they should also intervene by guiding him. As for children, a new toy will certainly attract their attention, and particularly if they play with it with one of their parents, who should not forget, that children’s patience and concentration is limited, and proportionate to their age.

Let’s look at the types of games that exist, and what the child gains from each type of game.

Kinetic games: Kinetic games strengthen the muscles, and help with the development of fine and coarser kinetic skills. In general, they help with the development of the muscular system, the nerves, and the brain. Therefore, encourage your child to experiment with his body, to control and improve his kinetic skills.

Social games: In the early years, the child plays alone, even if he is with other children. He plays egocentrically, and he is not willing to observe rules, or share his toys. He has not been socialized yet. Children at this age play with objects. However, after the age of two years, games are their ‘means’ for their social contacts, and sharing, giving and repossession are the bases for spontaneous contacts with other children, as well as adults. Social games indicate the child’s need to come into contact with his peers, and to obtain his own space outside his family environment.

When your child plays with other children, he becomes socialized, he learns to follow social rules, such as sharing and cooperating, as well as to use ‘logical thinking’, things that will prepare him for the adult world.

Construction games/toys: The child learns how to handle different materials for the purpose of constructing things. He learns how to experiment with objects, and to check if something works or doesn’t work. It has been proven that children who can handle objects and materials easily, not only develop practical, perceptive and verbal skills, but also ideas.

Imaginative play: Children learn how to think, try out new roles, handle possible situations, and experiment with language and their emotions. With ‘imaginative play’ the child acquires a flexible way of thinking, and learns how to handle symbolic meanings, something that is necessary in today’s technocratic society.

Games with rules: These begin with the integration of the child into pre-school groups. Games with rules help the child pass from the stage of egocentric play to the stage of understanding social differentiations. When a child learns to follow the rules of a game, he takes the first steps towards his integration into the wider community.

Play always was, and still is necessary for the correct development of the child, because it contributes to his social, natural, and cognitive progress. When a child learns how to handle a material, to acquire skills, and to interact with others, he acquires the sense of control of the environment, i.e. he becomes aware of everything that surrounds him. Playing helps with psychosomatic integration of the child, since it is a basic criterion of the combination of learning acquisition and vital brain functions.

Play combines creativity, fantasy, problem solving, language learning, mathematical thinking, and the development of social roles, as well as a series of other cognitive and social phenomena.


Who protects the child-consumer?

Two ministerial decisions on ‘general safety of products’ and ‘safety of toys’ of 1989 and 1996 respectively, with E.U. directives, cover the issue of the manufacture of toys, determining that they should not be flammable or have sharp edges etc. The crucial issue of the appropriateness of a product from an educational or psychological standpoint is not regulated anywhere. This legislative gap also exists in European legislation. The role of parents is crucial in view of the problem of integrated control of the toys that are available on the market. Therefore, parents should check if the toy that they wish to buy for their child is appropriate, as well as safe, for his psychosomatic health, and the formation of his personality.

Unfortunately, radio and television shows and advertisements are the most basic factors that influence the preferences of young consumers. It is a common phenomenon for extremely violent games, games that do not promote creativity and companionship, to have high sales. Thus, we saw and heard recently of the ‘terrible bag’, the ‘virginity metre’, which the deputy minister of development rightly and punitively banned.

Hopefully, legislative gaps will be covered, so that young consumers are not unprotected and exploited by marketing rules in the future. Until then, parents should remain vigilant.

Panagiotis Samaras
Mphil, PgDip, BSc Hons
Teacher – Psychologist



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