Outdoor play is something that all children benefit from. It can help to build confidence and creativity and create a sound basis for positive social interactions. The right outdoor play equipment has a vital role to play in this. When you create an outdoor play area that inspires and excites it can have an impact on emotional development in a number of key ways.
Teaching children the skills we take for granted
As adults we often forget that skills, such as collaboration and interacting with others, as well as developing confidence and a willingness to take risks, must all be learned. Outdoor play equipment creates the ideal environment in which the key skills of being a successful human can be established, especially when it comes to emotional development. In an outdoor play area, children can develop cognitive skills and motor skills, as well as nurturing a fertile imagination and understanding how to communicate. However, it’s often in emotional development where outdoor play equipment has a lot to add.
Why is emotional development important?
Being able to understand your own feelings and inner world, as well as the feelings of others, makes life a lot easier. So, children who develop well emotionally will always find the world an less confusing and more enjoyable place to be. Emotional development at a young age can help with interactions later in life, giving children the tools to regulate their emotions and make space for them, as well as understanding how to change behaviours in response to other people to preserve relationships. Outdoor play equipment impacts emotional development in a number of key ways:
- Teaching children how to share and take turns, which is instrumental for learning different ways of solving problems that are kind and empathetic.
- Creating opportunities to experience happiness and success. This encourages children to get into the habit of setting challenges for themselves and feeling the emotional reward when they are successful. It can lead to better motivation and growth further down the line.
- Enabling early understanding of failure and sadness. Outdoor play equipment can present challenges that improve emotional skills when it comes to failure, not getting things right and the challenging emotions that can arise around that, such as sadness. Children can learn healthy ways to process this, as well as how to let experiences go and move on.
- Lessons in expressing difficult feelings. As adults, we tend to have a smoother ride in life if we are able to deal with conflict proactively, taking a long-term view, rather than being overwhelmed by anger and rage. Outdoor play equipment can be the setting where a child learns that they won’t get what they want by screaming and shouting – and that other options exist when it comes to resolving conflict and making things happen.
Emotional development is vital in children who go on to become healthy, happy adults. These are some of the ways in which outdoor play equipment can have a positive impact on the process.