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The Benefits of Family Recreation
With more and more structured activities taking up our children’s time, this leaves little time for family recreation. Linda has two girls; one is eight years old and the other is ten. Each girl can be involved in up to three different extracurricular activities during the school year. Whether it is music lessons, gymnastics or swimming, there is hardly time to do anything together as a family. Sure, mom and dad juggle the responsibilities of getting each child to their respective activities and they stay to watch the practices or meets, but they are not truly interacting with their girls. Competitive activities such as these have replaced family recreation.
Family recreation would be defined as a pleasurable or relaxing activity done together as a family. Examples would be having a picnic together at a local park, going on a hike together in the woods, or exploring a fun museum together on a Saturday afternoon. You don’t have to leave the house to enjoy family recreation. You can play board games together, kick the soccer ball around in the backyard, or blow bubbles on the front porch. These activities in a child’s life, I would venture to say, are far more important than any structured extracurricular activity, primarily because they are spent with us, but for many other reasons as well.
Family recreation teaches life skills. Children learn a number of life skills from hanging together as a family. They learn how to solve problems and cooperate with one another. Any time you have two or more people together, each with their own personalities and ideas, a compromise must be practiced. We have to learn to take turns and consider the needs of other people. Children learn to cope with their frustration when they don’t get their way or they are learning something new. And family recreation allows us to teach our children about having a positive attitude. When we play a game together as a family, we don’t allow our children to be poor sports. We use the opportunity to teach them how to lose gracefully and congratulate the winners. We show them that playing a game is not always about winning and losing, but more about having fun.
Family recreation builds positive character. When we spend time together as a family, children learn a number of positive character traits. They learn to respect everyone in the family. If you’re playing a game together, they are learning to be honest. Cheating is not allowed. Children have the opportunity to develop their creativity, especially during imaginative play. And they learn to be flexible because everyone is different. When Donna decided to start a family night in her family, she gave each member of the family an opportunity to pick a fun family activity. Mom, Dad and the two children took turns choosing something fun to do. When it wasn’t your turn, you were not allowed to complain about the activity because they were trying to teach fairness.
Family recreation promotes physical, emotional, mental and social development. We all need recreation in our lives. Active activities exercise our bodies. Games that require us to think or activities that encourage learning to promote healthy mental development. Spending time together as a family and interacting in a relationship with one another develops our children socially. Emotionally, we receive love, companionship and the release of stressful feelings when we engage in recreational activities.
Family recreation strengthens family bonds. Spending time together builds intimacy in our lives. For children to feel loved, we need to spend quality time with them. This helps them feel valued and worthy of attention. The more time we spend together, the more we get to know one another. This helps us feel closer as a family. When we play together, we laugh and enjoy life together. These emotional feelings strengthen our family bonds.
Family recreation relieves stress. We all know adults need to release stress, but so do children. Believe it or not, children are stressed by school work, peer relationships and other normal childhood stressors. Playing and engaging in relaxing activities is a great way to blow off steam. Run around and play hide and seek, plunge into cool water at your local pool, or play a silly game of charades. Laugh and have fun.
Family recreation builds family memories. What are some of the best memories you have from your childhood? When I divorced my older son’s father, my son lost some of his favorite memories with his dad. He and his dad used to play basketball on a little basketball hoop in the house. They would run around in a little small area of his bedroom, acting crazy and shooting baskets. My ex-husband instilled some great memories with his son by engaging in family recreation with him. Fun times always stick in a person’s mind so enjoy life with your children. (Source: Sue Kirchner)
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