Make-Believe Play Important to Developing Self-Regulation In Kids

Psychologist Elena Bodrova at Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning says that kids' ability to regulate their behaviour has diminished over the past 60 years. Back then, 7 year-olds could be still indefinitely, 5 year-olds could be still on average for 3 minutes, and 3 year-olds could not stand still for any amount of time. Research in 2001 repeated this study and found that kids did more poorly on this measure. For instance, the 7 year-olds were barely able to be still for the 3 minutes that used to be common for 5 year-olds.Today's kids play with toys that do a lot of the creative work for them and parents structure playtime much more than in the past. Some clinicians believe that the reduced amount of unstructured make believe play available to todays kids may be the cause of this.  The self-talk that kids engage in during make believe unstructured play might help them develop their self-control, problem solving skills, and self-monitoring skills.

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