Let them just continue to attend the summer classes, so that we will have time to attend to our jobs and other things," is a common statement parents make when the summer holiday comes.

Many have also done same thing this time and their children have gradually lost play time. 

But a new policy report of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is emphasising the need for parents to adopt a new schedule for their children that will accommodate more play time. 

According to the report, children need to develop a variety of skill sets to optimise their development and manage toxic stress.

How Toxic Stress Affects Development

These skills sets are usually acquired during play time and the research demonstrated that developmentally, appropriate play with parents and peers is a singular opportunity to promote the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that build executive function and a pro-social brain.

"Play supports the formation of the safe, stable, and nurturing relationships with all caregivers that children need to thrive.

"Play is not frivolous: it enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function (ie, the process of learning, rather than the content), which allow us to pursue goals and ignore distractions.

"When play and safe, stable, nurturing relationships are missing in a child’s life, toxic stress can disrupt the development of executive function and the learning of pro-social behaviour; in the presence of childhood adversity, play becomes even more important.

The mutual joy and shared communication and attunement (harmonious serve and return interactions) that parents and children can experience during play regulate the body’s stress response. 

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The report further emphasised that playing with children adds value not only for children but also for adult caregivers, who can re-experience or re-awaken the joy of their own childhood and rejuvenate themselves.

"Through play and rereading their favourite childhood books, parents learn to see the world from their child’s perspective and are likely to communicate more effectively with their child, even appreciating and sharing their child’s sense of humour and individuality.

"Play enables children and adults to be passionately and totally immersed in an activity of their choice and to experience intense joy, much as athletes do when they are engaging in their optimal performance.

"Play is an opportunity for parents to engage with their children by observing and understanding nonverbal behaviour in young infants, participating in serve-and return exchanges, or sharing the joy and witnessing the blossoming of the passions in each of their children," the report read.

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To help address the issue that parents' engagement in full-time jobs has triggered, the report recommends that paediatricians can advocate for the importance of all forms of play as well as for the role of play in the development of executive functioning, emotional intelligence, and social skills.

AAP among other recommendations also stressed that paediatricians have a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of childhood by advocating for all children to have the opportunity to express their innate curiosity in the world and their great capacity for imagination.

If you enjoyed reading this and our other stories, please, share with friends and loved ones know the need go allow children play more.