Why Kids Need to Play

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get home from school, to change from my school clothes into my play clothes, and get outside with my friends to play. In fact, my mom would almost push me out the door since she knew that time spent outside with my friends was important. Don’t come home until dinner time, she would tell me. In our neighborhood, our afternoons, weekends, and summer days were filled with games of pick-up sports, hiking through the woods, riding bikes, or just hanging out at a neighbor’s backyard swingset. In those days we called it play. In today’s world, we now call it “independent play,” and it’s happening with diminished frequency. A new study suggests that the rise in mental health disorders in children and teens is attributable to a decline in opportunities for kids to roam, play, and engage in activities without adult oversight and control by adults. You see, independent play fosters healthy growth and development. Parents, let your kids play independently.