A new study by prominent researchers at Florida Atlantic University draws a correlation between children’s mental health decline and the lack of self-directed play. The researchers point out that children were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety in 2022 than in 1950. Meanwhile, days spent in school have increased by 20, and the average number of minutes of recess has dropped to 29.2 minutes.
The Effects of Lack of Independent Play
Lead researcher David F. Bjorklund and his team say that engaging in activities involving some degree of risk and personal responsibility away from adults keeps children from developing phobias, boosts self-confidence and teaches them how to deal with emergencies. The researchers also say that they realize that parents only want to keep their children safe.
The Psychological Effects of Helicopter Parenting
This new research is not the first time parents have been cautioned about helicopter parenting because of its psychological effects on their offspring. Two separate studies from the National University of Singapore and Midwestern University showed that children with helicopter parents feared making mistakes and blamed themselves for not being perfect. They also found that these children were more anxious and performed lower academically.
Why Independent Play is Important to Emotional Well-being
Independent play helps children become more confident that they can handle things on their own or with their peers’ help. It also encourages them to become more confident and teaches them vital problem-solving skills. Children who play independently are more likely to feel better about themselves and are more likely to forgive others when mistakes occur. They also often have better perseverance when things get tough.
We encourage parents who are concerned about their child’s mental health to reach out to us. We would love to work with your family to improve the mental well-being of every member.