Play boosts wellbeing for life

Better mental health. More resilience. A lifelong love of learning. When we give children the space and support to learn through play, we open them up to all these benefits

Play prepares the brain for wellbeing

We know joy is one of the key characteristics that makes play a force for good in children’s lives. For a start, it’s what keeps them coming back for more! When we’re enjoying ourselves, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine, a neurotransmitter that’s a crucial part of how we motivate ourselves. And healthy levels of dopamine are also linked to better memory, creativity and mental flexibility. So while children are enjoying playing they’re also busy building up crucial skills for living well.

Play makes the whole family happier

We know: we’ve asked them! Our Play Well report draws on conversations with 13,000 parents and children. 95% of parents tell us they believe play is essential for their child’s wellbeing. 91% of children agree. But research goes beyond that to show clear links between regular playtime and happier, less stressed, healthier families. Almost all families who played more than five hours a week together described themselves as happy (9 out of 10).

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Playing with others nurtures empathy and resilience

Plenty of time doing group activities – solving puzzles, acting out make-believe scenes, collaborating on a school project – feeds children’s social and emotional lives. They learn to celebrate wins and deal with disappointment. And, crucially, they practise looking at life from someone else’s perspective.

Play helps children cope with change

Children use play to unlock their inner superhero. Everyone needs to face down scary moments in their lives, like starting school or learning to swim. But many children also live through poverty, war and natural disasters. In all those situations, play helps children boost their natural resilience - so they find moments of calm and control, no matter what’s happening around them.

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Join our free online course to learn simple ways to parent playfully

Thousands of people have signed up to our nine-module, learn-at-your-own-pace online course. You’ll look at life from your child’s point of view, and get plenty of practical tips for helping them manage emotional ups and downs through play.

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