Emotional Development & Play

by Your Therapy Source |


Physical activity helps to boost the social and emotional health of children. Physical, active play can help children to:

  • express emotions such as smiling and laughing

  • negotiate with peers during games such as turn taking, establishing rules of games, etc

  • reduce stress

  • elevate the mood

  • establish feelings of pride and accomplishment by achieving goals such as climbing equipment or running around a track.

Here are some helpful tips to support the emotional development of children through play:

  • Observe the children and see what they enjoy playing. Create more opportunities for what they enjoy.

  • Strive for “just right” activities for the children. Activities that the children can accomplish help to boost feelings of self worth. Provide some activities that may be a challenge so that children can have a sense of accomplishment for pushing themselves to achieve more.

  • Praise children when they achieve new motor tasks or skills.

  • Add emotions to make believe active play (i.e. be a silly troll, a happy princess or a miserable witch).

  • Offer some activity ideas that all children can participate in regardless of motor skill to encourage peer interaction. This will help some children to focus on the social aspects of play without having to struggle with motor skills.

  • Keep children motivated and engaged. If certain activities are not encouraging active play, change it up to make it more active. Add more loose parts to play such as balls or hula hoops rather than relying on playground equipment to get children moving.

Physically active play can help children to become more confident, develop self control and support emotional health.

About The Author

This article was originally published on Your Therapy Source. Read the original article.


Reference: Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith and Julia DeLapp. Moving With Feeling Nurturing Preschool Children’s Emotional Health Through Active Play. Brief developed by the Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University for Head Start Body Start. http://www.aahperd.org/headstartbodystart/activityresources/upload/Moving-with-Feeling-brief-final.pdf

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