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The power of the game: why is it necessary for children?

The power of the game: why is it necessary for children?

May 14, 2024

Recently, an article in the popular magazine "Muy Interesante" spoke about the secret of toys and emphasized the importance of play in the maturation process of the individual.

This week, from the Mensalus Psychological and Psychological Assistance Institute, we talked about the importance of play in the development of the child and in the well-being of the adult.

Why is it important for children to play?

What is the power of the game?

The playful activities strengthen two areas of the gray mass (matter that is part of the Central Nervous System): the cerebellum, which coordinates the movements, and the frontal lobe, associated with decision making and impulse control. The toy plays a key role in these maturation processes since it collaborates in the learning of the cause-effect relationship ("if I push the truck, it moves") and in the calculation of probabilities through trial and error ("if I want the truck reaches the table, I must push harder ").

The power of the game is incalculable. Playing is learning by starting the imagination, discovering through interaction and, above all, having fun. For this reason, playing is a key element for the healthy growth of the individual and the development of his intelligence.

Children change their way of playing over the years ...

Of course. If we observe them we can see very interesting elements that differentiate one stage from another. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) made a detailed description of the main types of games that appear throughout childhood. This pedagogue observed that from 0 to 2 years the functional or exercise game predominates, from 2 to 6 years the symbolic game is made explicit and, from 6 to 12 years, the game of rules does.

In addition, Piaget noticed how, in parallel with these types of games, the so-called construction game appears, a type of game that evolves in the hand of everyone else (depending on the stage the child is in).

What characterizes exercise games?

The exercise games typical of the first years of life consist of repeating an action again and again for the sheer pleasure of obtaining an immediate result. These actions can be performed both with objects (bite, suck, throw, shake) and without them (crawling, swaying, crawling). In this stage the child develops the coordination of movements and displacements, the static and dynamic balance, as well as the understanding of the world that surrounds him, among others.

The toy industry offers many options that ensure the implementation of the skills described. As in the rest of the stages, the toys function as "useful materials" for the psycho-sensory-motor development of the child.

What toys favor the development of 2 to 6 years?

In this second stage in which the symbolic game predominates (that which consists of simulating situations, objects and characters), toys that promote the child's imagination and motivate him to create are interesting. For this reason, it is often better to build a scenario than to have it done in the first place.

The symbolic game facilitates the understanding of the environment, puts into practice knowledge about the established roles in adult life and favors the development of language among others. In short, in this type of game children reproduce the knowledge of the reality that surrounds them. The more varied the reality they know, the richer the arguments they use (families, doctors, teachers, dancers, shops, etc.). In fact, the selection and development of the game's theme / argument shows that the child increasingly understands vital aspects.

And what characterizes the game of rules (from 6 to 12 years)?

Rules are socializing elements that teach children to win and lose, to respect shifts and rules, to consider the actions and opinions of other colleagues, etc. The rules are fundamental for the learning of different types of knowledge and favor the development of language, memory, reasoning and attention.

To better illustrate the learning of the rules, Piaget took as an example the game of marbles: If you give marbles to children of 2 years, the activity they carry out is of an individual type: they suck, throw, push, etc.

If the deliveries to children between 2 and 5 years, although they receive the rule of how to play, they do it individually (parallel game), that is, they do not try to compete, win, exchange points of view, etc. Finally, if you share them with children over 6-7 years old and explain what the game is like, they understand the rules as obligatory elements and carry out the activity according to the bases.

Accompanying children in this sense is a fundamental task for their maturation.


For many parents, play is a distraction activity but, in reality, it is a task of more commitment. Playing contributes, as we have seen, in the integral growth of the infant, and participating in it makes us a key element for this maturational process.

Our figure within the game feeds all the mentioned capacities. For example, in the case of the symbolic game, it offers a source of information that the child will have to deal with and interact with (vocabulary, gestures, procedures, ideas about society, etc.). In the case of the game of rules, there are limits that, later, will develop transferable skills to the rest of the vital scenarios (for example: the wait).

We all need to play

Do seniors also need to play?

According to the psychiatrist Adam Blatner the need to play in humans is permanent. Blatner points out that the basis of a man's life is the relationship between four skills: love, work, play and think. Specifically, this psychiatrist enhances the playful activity as a compensating element of the emotional tension generated by the rest of activities.

The truth is that not all actions can become games. In fact, we would open an interesting debate if we reflect on what would happen if that were the case.

However. We can integrate the playful activity in a natural way in our daily life in order to counteract the tension / fatigue that the obligation generates, thus offering a place to the creative capacity. Therefore, introducing the game as a complementary element (whether at the time of playing sports, in a team dynamic, in the practice of a hobby, etc.) regardless of the existence of a game with the children, is a emotionally intelligent choice.

Are adults allowed to play?

Many times no. This is where the problem lies. The issue of permissiveness and beliefs related to "duty" diminish the space for spontaneity, the liberation of thought and joy. Therefore, today we do not want to dismiss this article without launching a final message: the game is part of our way of exploring and understanding the world ...

Playing is not just about children.

  • Maybe you're interested: "9 games and strategies to exercise the mind"

8 Japanese Parenting Rules All Kids Need (May 2024).

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