Play and Child Development Sample Essay

Play and Child Development


Every child needs play as this greatly contributes to their physical, social, and emotional well-being. There are different reasons why people play and these includeexcitement and pleasure. By playing, children get a chance to not only express themselves but also spend time with their parents. In addition, through playing, children can learn how to cope with their own feelings especially when they feignfeelings such as anger, sadness, and worry. This makes them gain positive emotions and can thus significantly contribute to a good self-sentiment and good health. Furthermore, it also fosters relationships and enables children to feel relaxed as they have fun. Play can also improve the value of life for the entire family. This research paper highlights how important play is in the development of children, in terms of physical,social,intellectual and emotional growth.The paper will also end by explaining the effects on the children’s development causes the lack of play.


Play is an activity that is chosen freely and is motivated and directed from within.Adequate space for play space and a wide variety of play materials can be crucial in the development of children (Goldstein, 2012). In early childhood education, play is particularly valued and embedded in the curriculum.The importance of play is stemmed from the contribution it makes towards the cognitive,physical,social and emotional well-being of children and youth (Ginsburg, 2005).Continuous play between children and their peers as well as adults can enhance their social competence and emotional maturity. Play is considered as the pillar of the society since it facilitates communication between people especially because they are expected to handle various roles. During play, children develop all the skills required, making it a very significant aspect of their lives (Goldstein, 2012). The development of different cognitive, affective and personal processes are dependent on play and these are aspectes that are important for the adaptive functioning of children (Russ, 2003). This paper seeks to show the necessity of playing in the growth and development of children.

Child developmental trends and milestones

Children undergo many developmental changes from the moment of their birth until they reach five years of age. These first years are very important in children’s growth especially because they determine the personality of the children. Some of the milestones experienced in terms of children’s development include physical, social, cognitive, and linguistic growth because children develop their body parts, the strength, and ability to move, cry, and talk. Additionally, there are also physical milestones such as rolling, sitting, crawling, standing without support, walking and running that children experience while emotional milestones include smiling at people, laughing, and responding to diverse situations in different ways. Children can also experience cognitive milestones including the exploration of new objects such as toys, picking up things and disarranging them, making reason inquiries like why some things are the way they are. Linguistic milestones that are experienced include babbling, imitating speech sounds, talking and singing or mimicking some rhymes. As reach child grow, the developmental milestonesevolve but the growth takes place at different paces for different children.

Theories and strategies that facilitate child development

There have been continuous studies on child development by different psychologists. During such studies, the psychologists focus more on the nature and development of human beings with some of the common child development theories being psychoanalytic, social, cognitive, and behavioral theories. In both social and cognitive theories, play is regarded as essential because the theorists are of the opinion that the relationships that children develop with their caregivers early in life ultimately play a major role in shaping the type of persons they grow into in the future. This also influences how they relate with other people later in life and their socialization techniques with others. In the cognitive theory, the theorist, Jean Piaget, suggests that prior to developing independent thinking, children go through fixed stages that shape their minds. This makes play an important aspect in the children’s lives especially in terms of informing them about their environment and the objects around them.

Piaget’s cognitive development theory

The cognitive development theory is more concerned about how children think at each stage of growth. Children often collect information and gather knowledge from the people and environment around them so that they can be able to comprehend the things that they know. By playing with different objects and their peers. children are able to learn more concerning their world.Piaget gives an analysis of the four stages of development experienced by children in which he categorizes each stage according to the ages of the children as well as the activities that occur in their lives and affect development. According to him, it is by going through different experiences that children grow and such experiences shape how they comprehend things until they reach the age of eleven.

Erickson’spsychosocial theory

This theory states that the development occurs at every stage in the life of a person and as such places a lot of emphasis on the emotional and social components of growth and development. According to Erickson the environment in which children grow in has a great influence on the personalities that they develop and this is mainly because they learn mostly through observation. As such, the more exposure to play and interaction that children get, the morethey develop in terms of personality. Erickson developed a theory that is categorized into eight stages of growth and clearly depicts the social conflicts that one has to go through and resolve in each stage before they can proceed or move on to the next stage. It is therefore necessary for people around the children need to be there for them and also assist them in resolving the conflict in order to facilitate normal development to the next stage.Maturity and the social groups that these children are exposed to determine whether or not children proceed from one stage to the other successfully. Erickson was of the opinion that each of the eight stages focused on overcoming a particular conflict and children could only function optimally if they dealt with the conflicts they encountered at each stage in an ideal manner.

Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory

Sigmund Freud believed that a child’s development process was based on a series of psychosexual stages that give pleasure to the child and these stages were categorized into four namely: oral, anal, latency and genital. Each of these four stages entailed gratifying specific desires that the child develops during the process of  growing up. According to him, the gratification of such desires heavily influenced a child’s personality in the future. Even though Freud placed a lot of emphasis on the  influence of childhood experiences and events, his theory did not focus much on normal functioning.

The role of play in physical, social, language and literacy development

The overall development of children is heavily influenced by play and children learn new things and reap many benefits such as social, physical, emotional, language and literacy gains from the process of playing.

Outdoor playing is a means through which children can exercise and by increasing their outdoor activities, children can be able to avoid obesity. Apart from burning calories, children can have a lot of fun while playing outside. Play is considered to have huge healthy benefits because it helps children to avoid carrying weight issues and health problems as they transition into adulthood(Goldstein 2012, p. 23). Through play, children can gain an increased range of motion as well as coordination. In addition, they also derive many positive emotions from playing and this helps to boost their immunity while at the same time reducing fatigue and depression.

Socially, children can become more sociable when they interact with their playmates and different toys. They also Proofreading-Editinglearn how to socialize in different situations and use diverse emotions. Through pretences and  play games, children can gain significant experiences in their abilities to alter objects and actions as well as roles that have symbolic meaning. They therefore have a chance to express themselves through arguing, negotiating and interacting when they take up the roles that they like during playtime. In essence, pretence gives children the platform through which they can learn how to plan, negotiate and solve problems (Bergen Vol.4). When exposed to play, children can easily learn how to make decisions and master important skills and this helps them later to develop confidence and be proud of themselves (Anderson-McNamee&Bailey, 2010 p.3).

Still within social aspects, play helps children to develop increased empathy, compassion and generosity as they learn to share their toys with others and even apologize and show concern whenever one of them is injured. Such emotions, enhance the attachment that they have and the attention they pay towards both their toys and their playmates. This ultimately helps them to create and model friendships with other children.

Play is also essential in the language and literacy development of the children. According to research, there is a strong link between early active social play and the development of good communication skills later in life. Language development in children can also be enhanced by playing with blocks. During play. children interact with their peers and as such they are forced to concentrate and pay attention in order to hear and understand the conversations they have with one another. Play can also motivate children to broaden the scope of their actions and enhance their confidence as well as linguistic abilities. Children who are exposed to play, learn language skills earlier than when they start attending school (Goldstein 2012, p.12).

Creativity in children is also developed during play. Children who get time off other duties to play, become more attentive especially in their schoolwork. Leaving children to initiate their own kind of games, gives them room to become more creative as opposed to when they are supervised by an adult (Goldstein 2012, p.13).

There are certain toys that can help children with learning. These include those that teach letters vocabulary spelling as well as pre-reading skills. When children play with such toys they develop language skills because they keep an open-mind during play.

It is evident that children can gain many advantages when exposed to play. Through play, children can gain intelligence as it helps in brain development and also establishes new neural connections. The speed at which a child’s brain develops is dependent on how frequent they are exposed to play. In addition. children who are playful tend to mature emotionally since they gain more from their interaction with others.

When children begin to attend school, is is necessary to give them room to play frequently since they need to adjust from the home setting to the new school environment where they meet other children. This will not only prepare the for their studies but also help them to gain cognitive abilities and erase any worries or fears of failing to learn as they begin a new life in school. During their breaksfrom play, children can learn and practice the basic social skills. Furthermore, they can discover more concerning their new environment, interact and make new friends (Anderson-McNamee &Bailey 2010 p.3).

Current lifestyles deny most children the opportunities to play and this therefore makes their development less effective. Majority of the children are encouraged to stay in-doors and play video games or even watch television, aspects that have adverse effects on their growth and development. Many parents also tend to focus on academic achievements and hence take their children to school at a very early stage, and this gives the children less time to play and spend free time at home.

Developmental delays

Developmental delay is used to refer to the failure of a child to grow according to normal expectations. There are diverse factors that cause developmental delay cases and although some are realized early into infancy, there are those that only become noticeable when time comes for the child to go to school. Some of the factors attributed to developmental delay include genetic makeup of the child, infections that a mother had when pregnant, premature birth and sometimes head injuries.

Parents ought to be very keen with their children during their infancy and growth periods and consult pediatricians whenever they feel the delay of certain milestones in their children. This is of high importance because they can easily realize in case their baby has a problem and learn how to handle with it. Parents can also be able to seek help from the appropriate institutions so as to avoid a situation whereby the delay prevents the child from leading a fulfilling and enjoyable life. Children who experience developmental delays engage in therapy games that can help them to improve their weak skills. Children can also learn a lot during their playtime and they can learn to handle different toys by being exposed to sufficient play hence making them healthier.

Effects of play deprivation

Human beings are naturally born with the urge to play making it an innate ability that is embedded within human beings. According to a study that was conducted on Harlow’s monkeys depreciated exposure to play severely damaged their chances of growing into well functioning adults. Likewise, human beings need sufficient play in order to grow and develop effectively. Children risk abnormal and deviant behavior when they are given less or no chance to play.

Peter Gray 2011, blames play deprivation on the increase of the cases of social misbehavior and psychopathology in young people. This is because play enables children to not only make decisions but also develop problem solving skills and these aspects guide them to control their emotions. Children  also find joy and happiness during play because they are able to interact and associate with their friends who they treat as their equal counterparts. Ultimately, the impacts generated by that play on the development of children improves their mental health. Children that lack the opportunity to play, tend to lose out and end up with mental issues that affect them for the rest of their lives. These children can become mentally disturbed, restless, aggressive and violent. All these traits become evident in children who are not given the chance to play because they do not get the chance to learn how to control their feelings and therefore they miss the self control when adults. Some of the negative consequences that play deprivation can have on persons include problems with optimal learning, self control, normal social functioning and lack of proper maturity (Gold stein 2012, p.27).

In a study conducted by Brown and Lomax, a group of murderers and NobelPrize winners were observed and their childhood scrutinized.Through a follow-up on their play histories, these researchers found out that playing is a vital aspect in childhood. The lack of exposure to play activities during their childhood was among the key factors that led them to become the kind of adults they became. They further realized that play can help to modify anti social behavior in children (Brown 2013 p. 5).


Friedrich Frobel asserted that, “Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, it is the free expression of what is in the soul of the child.”(Goldstein 2012 p.31). The need to play in children is comparable to the need for food in human beings. Play is a need that helps to promote good health, emotional and social wellness as well as a full expression of what it means to be human. Regardless of their lifestyle, every parent needs to give their child sufficient time to play in order to facilitate their growth and allow their body organs to develop healthily, as well as give them room to become responsible adults in the future.

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Reference List

Bergen, D. (2002). The role of pretend play in children’s cognitive development. ERIC       Clearinghouse.

Brown, F.(2013). Play deprivation: impact, consequences and the potential of play work.   Retrieved from:

Ginsburg, K. R. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and          maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediatrics, 119(1), 182-191.

Goldstein, J. (2012). Play in children’s development, health and well-being. Retrieved from:                file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Administrator/My%20Documents/Downloads/play_in_children_s_development_health_and_well-being_-_final-3%20(3).pdf

Hughes, F. P. (2010). Children, play, and development. Los Angeles: Sage.

The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Development