CLEVELAND – When we think of a prescription from the pediatrician’s office, we typically associate it with some sort of illness.
But recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued an updated report encouraging pediatricians to prescribe playtime at a child’s well-visit.
According to William Mudd, D.O., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, play is an essential part of a child’s brain development.
“Through exercise and through play children learn quite a lot – more than we would expect – more than they do in regimented classrooms, and that’s the basic idea behind the recommendation for play– encouraging their cognitive development,” he said.
The report indicated appropriate playtime promotes skills that children need throughout life and helps boost learning. And the relationships that evolve from playing with others provides a buffer from stress and helps encourage resilience.
Dr. Mudd said play is natural for children – we don’t typically have to motivate them to participate.
He said play also helps children develop problem-solving skills, visual skills and teaches them the value of working and interacting with others.
Dr. Mudd said play is very important throughout childhood– especially during the first several years when a child’s brain makes the most development.
Likewise, he said that not enough playtime can have negative effects on a child.
“What we’ve seen, on the contrary, is when children are deprived of play – when they’re in low-stimulus environments without interaction – we see quite the opposite; we don’t have quite the cognitive development, or the language development as well,” said Dr. Mudd.
With more technology available to children today, Dr. Mudd said sometimes play can take a back seat, but it’s important to not let devices take the place of real play.
He reminds parents that kids don’t need expensive toys – just let them use their imaginations.