The Role of Play in Child Development
Top Tips to Boost Your Child's Confidence Through Play
  • Give lots of praise when your child plays well
  • Use age-appropriate toys that challenge your child's understanding
  • Gently encourage your child to play with puzzle toys
  • Aim for your child to increase learning in small stages
  • Let your child choose what toys to play with, most of the time
  • Prove that you are interested by watching your child at play
  • Be sympathetic when your child becomes frustrated in play
  • Avoid comparing the way your child plays with the way another child plays
  • Brag to your friends and
    relatives about your child's play achievements in front of them
  • Give your child a cuddle
    sometimes during play
Free Play Ideas

Play is a serious business, as far as children are concerned. Play makes an immense contribution to your child's development in lots of important ways.

As a child plays, they learn all about themselves and what they can do. Play helps them make friends, enjoy company and discover the world around them.

Your child has fun while playing and at the same time is discovering and developing. That's what makes play so wonderful!

Improving Confidence Through Play

Play boosts your child's self-confidence in many ways:

  • Exploration
    By learning through discovery, your little explorer develops belief in their skills and abilities.
  • Movement
    As soon as your child can move, they want to play all over the house. The "I got there by myself" expression shows your child's growing confidence.
  • Imagination
    Toddlers start to use their imagination in pretend-play. This is a new and exciting experience for children, and they love it.
  • Creativity
    Every child can be creative in play. Your child will be delighted when you smile at their drawings and paintings.
  • Socialising
    Playing with friends is a great way for your child to learn important social skills like sharing and taking turns.
  • Problem-solving
    Your child's confidence is boosted by solving a puzzle toy on their own - they would rather do it without too much help.
  • Language
    Playing with others builds up your child's vocabulary, speech and communication skills.
Individual Play Patterns

The way your child plays depends on many different factors. First there's their age and stage of development - play becomes more complicated as your child grows older. Personality matters too - an enthusiastic child will get stuck in to toys immediately while a passive child may hold back.

The range of toys and games available affects play - a child who hasn't got a pedal toy, for example, won't learn how to make it move by pushing the pedals.

Every child instinctively needs to play. But there are many distractions that can grab young interest. For example, a television programme or a computer game may attract your child's attention away from toys and games.

A Balanced Diet of Play

Some children prefer to spend most of their time with creative play, some with imaginative play and others with active play.

There is nothing wrong in liking one toy or game in particular, but a balanced diet of play is best for development. In other words, it's good for your child to play in lots of different ways.

Each type of play contributes in its own way to all-round psychological progress. Your child gets something different out of playing with different toys.

Encourage your child to achieve a balanced diet of play by offering a regular change of play activities. You can suggest new types of games and new toys.

Find out more about Dr Woolfon's insights on a Balanced Diet of Play