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Importance of play in a child’s social development towards adulthood Expository Essay


United Nations High Commission for Human Rights says that “playing is an important part of a child that should be recognized as a right of every child” (1989, np). This right is however contested by the issues of child labor and mistreatment practices. Not all children are privileged to the right of play and some of these children are not enjoying the full benefits of this right to the maximum.

This is forcing the children grow up too quickly missing out on the benefits that playing has to offer and limiting their ability of developing their own personal unique potential UNCHR (1989) notes “playing develops the cognitive, social and emotional well being of the child and the parents as well.” In some cases, play in a child’s life may not be preparing them for their future social life; it may be the way by which a child actively takes part in social life and negotiating relationships (Strandell 2000, 155).

Social development

Social development is an important aspect of a child’s healthful progress in life. Child development on the other hand describes the biological and psychological changes that take place in an individual between birth and the end of adolescence. The foundation of a child’s social development determines whether the child will be able to form nourishing relationships and assimilate into social situations with ease when they are adults.

A child begins to develop socially when it first and foremost interacts with its parents. The parents are supposed to give and show their child love and paying attention to their needs as these are the building blocks in social development that will help the child grow into a content, self-assured and socially healthy person (Dwase, 2008)

Stages of social development

Social development of children does not happen overnight, there are different stages that the child goes through so as to develop socially among peers and other people around them. These stages are the building blocks of how one will interact with other people socially as an adult. Parents and care givers therefore are to pay close attention to how their children are developing socially as this will determine how the child will interact socially as an adult.

The stages of child development are; trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame, initiative vs. guilt, industry vs. inferiority, identity vs. role confusion. During these stages the person develops differently learning how to fit in with different people and how to interact with these different people.

This paper will focus on how playing affects the child social development as a child and as an adult. Childhood friends give children more than just a playmate, learning to make friends and maintaining them are crucial aspects of a child’s development skills that help them not only in their personal lives but also in their professional lives in the future (kid’s development 2005)

Role of play in a child’s social development

Child development is influenced by many things that the child comes in contact with as they grow up, playing is part and parcel of the social development of the child and it is quite important. Playing among children is chosen due to free will, naturally inspired and directed from a personal view.

According to a report by American Academy of Pediatrics (2007) limitless and free play is necessary for assisting children reach significant social, emotional and mind developmental high points making the children be better mangers of stress and become flexible. This shows that playing shapes how the child will view circumstances in the future and how the child will relate to other people. Playing with other involves patience, tolerance, understanding and most of all sharing; this will help the child carry these aspects to the future.

Play in children has other responsibilities apart from helping the child develop socially. “These responsibilities include but are not limited to; getting rid of surplus energy, understanding the social world, help children develop cognitively, helps children develop communication skills, assists children cope with their feelings and fears and to manage their emotional states, develop positive dispositions towards challenge, change and self-initiated learning” (Hyder 2005, 20).

Playing gets rid of the excess energy children have as they do not work and this energy needs to go somewhere thus this energy is used up during play. Playing plays a function when it comes to understanding the world. Play helps the child understand the role of adults in the world, this is seen when the girls tend to play with dolls imitating their mothers and boys tend to play with action figures imitating their fathers.

This role play helps the children understand the world of adults as they try to fit in. Piaget developed the notion that play is part of in the child’s cognitive development. The child needs to explore and experiment for themselves so as to fully understand and develop cognitively in the abstract view of aspects. During play a child is able to think in more intricate ways than their everyday life their imagination is used in play.

Play supports a child in developing communication skills through the use of language. In most games, the participants are required to talk so as pass on or receive a message, through the use of language the child learns how to communicate with their peers during play time. Language is used in classifying and organizing their games, imaginary playing, emphasizing social chain of command in the play ground. Through use of language, shy children can learn how to interact with others gaining and building their self confidence (Hyder 21).

Importance of play

Play has several important aspects in a child’s life. Through playing, a child develops and learns new things that may be of help to them in the future. Through play a child studies the skills that are essential to efficiently take part in tier world in regards to play. Playing gives children a natural platform where they can actively take part in different activities that improve physical, language, social and cognitive growth.

By taking part in games, children are able to expand their knowledge and understanding of themselves, others, and the physical world that surrounds them. Through understanding themselves first and others children are able to form a strong base for their future relationships that are more often than not likely to be healthy. (McFadden, 2010)

Another importance of play is developing the child’s motor development. This is through the physical activities that play offers the child becomes fit at no extra cost and the playing keeps them fit. Physically fit children are healthy and health is one of the recommendations of healthy child development.

By management of playing materials, the child develops small valuable skills for instance motor skills. Large motor skills alternatively are acquired as a child gets involved in vigorous physical activities while playing for instance in a game of soccer. These motor skills will assist the child as the child advances in school (McFadden, 2010).

Play is important in developing language skills in children whereby when they engage in recreation activities, they try out different words so as to convey their feelings and convey information to others and so on. As children become more experienced in their play skills, their language development becomes more and more mature.

Language in play is used to solve problems come up with new games and communicate ones wishes. Language skills are used in paying through playing name games, singing songs and reciting jump rope rhymes just to mention but a few (Illinois State Board of Education, 2010).

Playing provides a forum whereby children can socially interrelate with their peers. These relations can be through how the children team up to play certain games, discussing rules for a card game, deciding who will play which role in a game. Through these relations children learn the significance of societal norms and how to live with other children.

In the course of the social interaction children realize how to state and manage their emotions and to solve misunderstandings with others. Social interrelation during play helps the child develop a sense of value and ethics that is useful in the future of the child’s life. Playing provides opportunities whereby children promote cooperation amongst themselves. Through playing, children discover the advantages of working together in a team and sharing their toys with others (Tombs, 2006).

Playing is important as it enhances a child’s creativity and imagination. The children make up stories during play time, put on a puppet show for their friends play dress up improving their creativity and imagination through exploiting this aspect of play, the child may become a successful play writer or movie maker in the future (Illinois State Board of Education, 2010).

Through playing children are pushed to look at and control objects and materials in their environment and this improves their cognitive skills. McFadden (2010) notes “children gain more confidence in themselves as they play through encountering fun and success in their games.

The enhanced confidence motivates children to further explore their world and find more challenging activities to carry out.” Thoughts and views spoken by children during play increase and turn out to be more complicated as their play skills become more and more enhanced (Encyclopedia of social elements, 2010).

Play allows the young child to be in charge of their actions and this in turn develops their self esteem. children will also leave beyond their actual ages when it comes to play, they may pretend to be an astronaut, a lawyer, an engineer all in the name of play. When these activities are encouraged by care givers the children believe tend to believe in themselves making them prosper in their everyday lives and in all that they do in the present and in the future (Dixon, 2008, 63).

Types of play

Klugman and Fasoli (1995, 45) states “there are different types of play that develop a child socially. These types of play are functional play, constructive play, pretend play and games with rules play.”

The first type, functional, deals with a situation where a child deals with the same type of play playing materials thereby gaining motor and applicable handiness. This type playing involves a wide range of activities hence not limited to the traditional types of playing activities for instance outdoor games hence, functional play occupies more than 51% of a child’s recreational activities when they are less than 3 years old. This type of play reduces as a child gets older but it remains important in addition, a child can engage in functional play by themselves or with other children.

Constructive play involves the child making something and coming up with solutions to problems these can occur when they are playing with building blocks, dolls and so. Children between the age of four and six engage in this type of play almost 50% of their play time. Constructive play enhances judgment and interpretation skills, problem solving skills and originality.

Pretend play involves children changing themselves, other people and objects from reality to make belief. This can be a one child activity or a group activity. Children in Pre School and kindergarten use this type of play most and forget it as they get older. Weiss (1993, 108) says, “Pretend play assists children in processing their emotions, events they have gone through as well as put their social skills into practice, learn values, develop language skills and generate a rich imagination.”

Games with rules involve pre set rules that have to be followed for the game to be successful they include soccer, board games, and so. This type of play provides children with an opportunity to gain knowledge of and observe cooperation, reciprocal understanding and reasonable thinking.

Attachment between childhood and adulthood

Play begins when children are first born and is continues until one reaches the end of adolescence the onset of adulthood. Play as we have seen previously is quite important in the lives of the children as it helps them into the future generation. This is simply to say one can pick out adults who were allowed to exercise their rights to play and those who were not.

Adults who exercised their right to play tend to be easier to communicate to as they developed people skills at an early age. On the other hand adults who did not exercise their right to play tend to be difficult to communicate to, they may turn out to be people who commit violent crime due to their antisocial nature from the time they were children (Weiss 1993, 45).

An adult, who was encouraged to play as a child, will have high self esteem and be confident with carrying out things he needs to do contrary to an adult who was punished for playing. Playing gives one the building blocks of life that are essential in making the future life more pleasant to enjoy as many of the skills they have obtained were encouraged and developed through playing as a child.

Playing teaches children the importance of sharing and how to express themselves as well as how to solve problems this reflects in their adult lives as they understand the different situations and people around them. Playing makes one open to different situations and possibilities that the world offers in addition to this a child learns how to be resilient to problems as an adult. (American Academy of Pediatrics 2006, 182)

When it comes to leisure as an adult, one tends to link the play time he experienced as a child to the leisure he is experiencing as an adult. This simply means that leisure in adult hood depends on the leisure one had as a child. Both the leisure activities are linked as one may be looking for the joy they felt as a child. This means that if a person was allowed to exercise the right of play when they were children they will most likely venture into leisure activities as adults so as to allow themselves to relax and enjoy their lives.

Leisure to adults is equivalent to playing children and both these two aspects are related. In order to enjoy leisure as an adult, one must have enjoyed playing as a child; it is evident that leisure is as a result of play in ones early years. Leisure is a form of play that has evolved over the years as one grows up. Leisure activities and play may be similar but leisure is a bit more complex as the individual has matured.

Examples of leisure activities for adults include scrabble a board game where one needs to have a good command of language, filling complex cross word puzzles just to mention but a few. Some leisure activities that include sports may be one and the same for adults and children but the intensity varies (Bull et al 2002, 39).


In conclusion, play is a very important aspect of not only a child’s life but an individual’s life. Play helps a child develop alone and get guidance from its care givers so as to keep improving in different aspects of life. Play has several roles and importances in a person’s life, this is not to say that play is the only thing that plays a part in developing a child socially but it plays a huge role when it comes to a child’s social development.

Children develop socially at different ages and through different situations, these situations include observing and participating in play. Children are supposed to be encouraged to play as it is through playing that they will develop their own individual personalities and learn how to cope with the different personalities around them and in the world.

Play opens up the mind of the child to many different situations and possibilities. Children learn who to play with and who not to play with; they choose their friends based on how they get along when it comes to playing.

The interaction that children have as they playing determines the kind of people they will turn out to be in future. Some children also use playing as an arena to air out their feelings and their ideas and this helps them learn how to adapt to different situations and circumstances and how to deal wit issues that affect them directly and indirectly.

Play also help the children keep fit and develop their motor as well as their cognitive skills and language skills. The physical activities that involve running about, jumping keep the child fit and healthy. The controlling of their toys helps children move about their hands and feet such that they are not sitting in one position the whole day. Planning about their games, thinking of new ways to play help the children develop innovative brains and encourage them to be more creative in their day to day lives which is big help for their future lives.

Language skills are a result of reciting rhymes, singing songs and passing on messages that help the children become more articulate and eloquent in their speech and their communication skills. Language is a big part of human life and if one does not learn how to communicate correctly as a child it may become a huge problem when they grow older and they have to pass on information yet they cannot seem they correct way to pass the intended message.

Play promotes a child’s self esteem such that the child is not afraid of voicing their concerns or to ask questions. Self esteem and self confidence are big parts of an adult life, they enable one to communicate with other people correctly and this self esteem is build and reinforced when one is a child.

Self esteem first shows when the child is playing by themselves or with other children, it is up to the parents and care givers to reinforce the self esteem and self confidence of their children through playing so as they can turn out to be responsible and successful people in the society.


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Hyder, T., (2005). War, Conflict and Play. London: Routledge.

Illinois State Board of Education. (2010). Illinois Early Learning Project: Young Children Need to play. Illinois State Board of Education. Web.

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Klugman, E., & Fasoli, L., (1995). Taking the High Road Toward a Definition of Play, Play, Policy and Practice. St. Paul, Minnesota: Red Leaf Press.

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Strandell, H., (2000). ‘What is the use of children’s play: preparation or social participation?’ in Penn, H. (ed.). Early Childhood Services: Theory, Policy and Pactice pp. 147-157. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Tombs M., (2006). The Importance of play in a child’s development. Web.

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