Moderation in everything might sound like a boring old mantra and something that your parents used to say, but in the same way that nutrition is about balancing the food groups, a healthy play diet is about balancing different types of play activities. The Play Diet is a practical approach that parents can use to help guide the activities that they encourage their children to do, and can help them resist the pester power that parents tell us they find so difficult to handle.
By developing a balanced approach to play and creating healthy habits as the norm, parents are able to treat the children occasionally and not feel bad at times that they let the kids have more screen time than they intended.
Understanding the concept of a play diet can also help with choices around birthday presents as it enables parents to ask family and friends to give children a selection of different toys that they can use to meet different developmental needs.
There’s a lot of pressure on parents regarding the amount of screen time children are allowed. It can be really demoralising to listen to parents whose little darlings only watch half an hour of TV at weekends and only educational programmes at that. Of course, allowing children to sit in front of the computer or TV for hours on end isn’t healthy but the benefits of giving the children some down time in front of the TV, where they’re not making a mess, and give a harangued parent a few minutes to regroup far outweighs any negative effects the TV has.
Have a look around the website and you’ll see lots of reference to the healthy play diet. It is a concept that runs through all the work we do. We believe passionately in the importance of allowing children to develop and learn through play and know that parents sometimes find it difficult to know how best to facilitate that.
5 tips to help balance your child’s play diet
- Active, child-led play is the superfood of the play diet. So try to make this a big part of your daily routine
- Balance inside and outside activity and choose toys that can be used inside to promote active play even when the children can’t go outside.
- Don’t forbid screen time or tech play. Engage with it but don’t use it as a baby-sitter
- Mix and match playmates – children play differently with different people so involve other family members, older and younger children as well as peers.
- Do your research before buying toys, tech or apps for children to make sure they’re going to get maximum benefit from it.