6. Children learn how to share, resolve conflicts, make decisions, be assertive, and work in groups through unstructured play. Although some children are more apt to have these skills than others, most children are able to develop these great social skills through playing with other children. Even playing alone can help a child gain self-confidence, assertiveness, decision-making skills, and much more.
7. Play allows children to identify, express, and learn about feelings. Children often use pretend play to act out things they see in their lives, such as what their mom and dad are like, experiences that occur at school, or what friendships are like. Amidst these everyday life experiences, children of course have feelings about the events. Children become more aware of their own and others’ feelings and how to manage feelings by expressing them and working through emotions in play.
8. Children can make sense of their life experiences through unstructured play. Children don’t see things the same way as adults do, so they can use play to have a better understanding of certain life experiences.
9. Parents can help children who are experiencing a wide range of difficulties by learning how to play with them in a specific way using selected toys. These difficulties include, but are not limited to, emotional problems, pervasive developmental disorders, speech problems, mental retardation, parental divorce, at-risk circumstances, relocation, immigration, abuse/neglect, mental health diagnoses, foster/adoption issues, chronic illness, social difficulties, hyperactivity, disabilities, learning difficulties, exposure to violence, adjustment difficulties, and deaf and hard of hearing. There are ways that a parent can help their children with these types of issues by using specific types of toys and specific types of interactions. However, there are also therapeutic interventions that a therapist or play therapist can teach a parent to best suit the child’s situation, such as filial therapy, parent-child interaction therapy, and play therapy interventions.
10. Parents can significantly improve their relationships with their children by learning how to play with them in a specific way using selected toys. When parents simply be with their child and truly focus on their child (without being in a hurry or trying to over-manage the play), their relationship with their child can greatly improve. Play time doesn’t have to occur for hours a day. It can be as little as a few minutes here and there but doing this type of play on a daily or at least almost daily basis is very helpful to a parent-child relationship.