Let Your Child Play Alone To Become Happier And Independent

May 11, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

According to research, the decline over decades in opportunities for children and teens to play, roam and engage in activities independent of direct oversight and control by adults has led to rise in mental health disorders.

Although well intended, adults’ drive to guide and protect children has deprived them of the independence they need for mental health, contributing to record levels of anxiety, depression, and suicide among young people, says a study by Florida Atlantic University.

Anxiety and depression among kids all time high

Anxiety and depression among school-aged children and teens in the United States are at an all-time high. Sadly, in 2021, child and adolescent mental health was declared a national emergency.

Although a variety of causes are thought to contribute to this decline in mental health, a new study by three prominent researchers specializing in child development points to independent “child’s play.”

Findings of the research were published in published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Children need to feel trusted, responsible and capable

“Parents today are regularly subject to messages about the dangers that might befall unsupervised children and the value of high achievement in school.

But they hear little of the countervailing messages that if children are to grow up well-adjusted, they need ever-increasing opportunities for independent activity, including self-directed play and meaningful contributions to family and community life, which are signs that they are trusted, responsible, and capable.

Let Your Child Play Alone To Become Happier And Independent

They need to feel they can deal effectively with the real world, not just the world of school,” said David F. Bjorklund, Ph.D., co-author and a professor in the Department of Psychology in Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

Decline in degree of risk and personal responsibility for children

The study also showed that children’s freedom to engage in activities that involve some degree of risk and personal responsibility away from adults also has declined over the decades.

Risky play, such as climbing high into a tree, helps protect children from developing phobias and reduces future anxiety by boosting self-confidence to deal with emergencies.

Want Your Child To Be More Confident And Creative? Use Music Therapy

May 11, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team A study demonstrates the benefits of music education to adolescent health and wellbeing. The impact of music education


Increased time at school a constraint

Among the many constraints that impact independent activity in children today identified in the study include increased time they spend in school and on schoolwork at home. Between 1950 and 2010, the average length of the school year in the U.S. increased by five weeks.

Homework, which was once rare or non-existent in elementary school, is now common even in kindergarten. Moreover, by 2014, the average time spent in recess (including any recess associated with the lunch period) for elementary schools was just 26.9 minutes a day, and some schools had no recess at all.

Play a direct source of children’s happiness

“A major category of independent activity, especially for young children, is play,” said Bjorklund. “Research, as well as everyday observation, indicates that play is a direct source of children’s happiness.”

Let Your Child Play Alone To Become Happier And Independent

The researchers suggest the increase in school time and pressure to achieve over decades may have impacted mental health not just by detracting from time and opportunity for independent activities but also because fear of academic failure, or fear of insufficient achievement, is a direct source of distress.

Decline in independent activity among kids a crisis

“Unlike other crises, such as the COVID epidemic, this decline in independent activity, and hence, mental wellbeing in children has crept up on us gradually, over decades, so many have barely noticed it,” said Bjorklund.

“Moreover, unlike other health crises, this one is not the result of a highly contagious virus, but rather the result of good intentions carried too far — intentions to protect children and provide what many believed to be better (interpreted as more) schooling, both in and out of actual schools.”

For the study, Bjorklund and co-authors Peter Gray, Ph.D., lead author and a research professor in the Department of Psychology at Boston College; and David F. Lancy, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Utah State University, summarize the large decline over decades in children’s opportunities for independent activity; a large decline over the same decades in young people’s mental health; effects of independent activity on children’s happiness; and effects of independent activity in building long-term psychological resilience.

Adult guidance needs to be tempered

The article concludes by noting that concern for children’s safety and the value of adult guidance needs to be tempered by recognition that, as children grow, they need ever increasing opportunities to manage their own activities independently.

The article suggests ways by which this can be accomplished in today’s world and ways that paediatricians, family doctors, and public policy makers can help promote such change.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Florida Atlantic University. Original written by Gisele Galoustian.

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Peter Gray, David F. Lancy, David F. Bjorklund. Decline in Independent Activity as a Cause of Decline in Children’s Mental Wellbeing: Summary of the Evidence. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2023; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2023.02.004

Page citation

Florida Atlantic University. “‘All work, no independent play’ cause of children’s declining mental health.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/03/230309101330.htm>.

Find help here:

Name of the Organisation: Indla’s Child Guidance Clinics (ICGC)

Indla’s Child Guidance Clinics (ICGC) was established in Vijayawada and then was expanded
to Mumbai in 2015 followed by another branch in the same city in 2017. ICGC provides
assessment, remediation, and counseling all under one roof. It offers medication, parental
counseling and therapies for children and adolescents. They also conduct workshops on
parenting and life skills development.

Website: https://www.indlaschildwellness.com/

Contact : Email: icgchelp@gmail.com

Telephone: 9820333068 , 022-24380802

1 thought on “Let Your Child Play Alone To Become Happier And Independent”

Leave a Reply