Make Time 2 Play: Beat Children’s Body Image Issues through Play

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By In The Playroom


I recently went to the Evolution PR Christmas in July event and while I was there I had the chance to have a chat with the people from Make Time 2 Play. For those who are not aware, they are an organisation, part of the British Toy and Hobby Association, emphasising the importance of Play. They have an app on the app store with lots of play ideas, whether for 5 mins, 10 mins or longer, and the website has lots of information about the different benefits of play, so is worth a look.

They have just released a new report by Dr Linda Papadopoulos all about the importance of active play, and how it can help to boost children’s confidence in their bodies so that rather than thinking just about how the bodies look they are also focusing on what they can achieve with their bodies like running, climbing, jumping and think wow look what my legs can do! Rather than “oh, are my legs too fat, or too short” etc.

Teaching children to value their body for “what it can do” not simply for “how it looks” is an important way of combatting potential unhealthy body image.
If children understand the concept of body function they look at
themselves for what they can do rather than what they look like. Children should be taught that their bodies are fast, strong, flexible and agile rather than just pretty or handsome
The report shows that children as young as five are having concerns about their body image, and this can at times put them off participating in sports as they lack the confidence.

With the current really hot weather its a perfect time for active play outdoors! Getting involved in active play from a young age can help to combat these kind of problems and active play can take many forms it doesn’t have to be in the form of organised sports if the child is feeling uncomfortable there are alternatives to make sure that they can still get their exercise. A some simple ideas for young children could be:

  • trampoline
  • dancing
  • ball games
  • races and obstacle courses
  • climbing
  • skipping

It’s shown that those who develop more of an attachment to active play during their younger years have a much higher chance of keeping this up throughout life, and also that children are naturally active when given a chance to just play free from structure. All the running, climbing and jumping that they do when just given a chance to play outside is all so beneficial so its so important to make sure that the children are given amble chance to do this kind of free active play.

The 8 recommendations from the report are:

  • The way we value active play, sport and health will contribute to how children value their bodies
  • Model appropriate behaviour
  • You don’t need to be the best at it to enjoy it
  • Beware of how you compliment
  • You’re in competition with no-one but yourself
  • Schools need to offer variety
  • Promoting gender equality
  • Policy change to ensure that schools talk about body image in PSHE

Each of these are expanded on further in the report. You can read the whole report here and support Make Time 2 Play by liking their Facebook page.

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Anna Marikar, mum of four and seasoned blogger, has spent over a decade sharing her parenting journey and passion for kid-friendly crafts and free printables.
Her easy-to-follow craft ideas and practical parenting advice have transformed In The Playroom into a cherished resource for parents.

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