Playground equipment is much more than a simple way to pass an afternoon. The free, unstructured play that a playground provides means that children can direct their own activities, and at a time in their lives when the rest of their day is likely carefully structured and supervised, this bit of controlled freedom can create an incredibly positive effect on their mental health.
The best part is that the benefits aren’t limited to an improvement in mood. Playgrounds also help them develop the skills they’ll need to cope with unfamiliar or challenging situations as they grow up. Today, we’d like to introduce you to four of the best ways playgrounds can improve a child’s mental health and why it matters for kids of all ages.
1. It Provides an Immediate Mood Boost
The second a child begins playing on playground equipment, no matter whether it’s that first ride down a plastic slide or an exciting scramble up a climber, they experience an immediate increase in feelings of joy. The combination of physical activity, outdoor weather, and the novelty of a new experience all combine to encourage the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness and delight. No matter what mood a child was in before they arrived, the simple act of playing on the playground will help encourage them to enjoy a sense of happiness and excitement.
2. It Improves the Ability to Handle Challenges
The different configurations of playground equipment also provide children with a subtle mental challenge: how best to explore, or to get from Point A to Point B? Every time they accomplish something they set out to do, they’ll gain confidence in themselves and their decision-making abilities. By the same token, when they fail at something – when they miss a step or don’t get to be the first one in line for the slide – the open space of the playground allows them the space they may need to pick themselves up and try again.
This directly translates to better resilience against real-world challenges. Instead of getting upset and discouraged, they’ll already understand from their time in the playground that they need to keep trying to achieve what they want. They’ll also be able to experiment with different methods of problem-solving, and the fact that the play is unstructured (allowing them to take and accept full responsibility for how they spend their time) will encourage them to develop good coping methods if the time doesn’t unfold quite as they’d pictured.
3. It Allows Children to Take a Break from Busy Schedules
Children necessarily operate according to schedules. There’s a certain time they wake up, a time for breakfast, a time for school, and even a time for naps. While this structure is essential for children, it’s also important to provide breaks in the routine. Time spent in a playground for children is time that is fully theirs to enjoy. It’s also time they’ll spend engaging in physical activities, which will tire them out and let them sleep more easily at night, setting the stage for a fresh start the following day.
4. It Helps Kids Manage Impulses & Avoid Bad Behaviours
Playground equipment is frequently shared between several youngsters at a time. On the playground, with no parents or teachers to intervene at every encounter, children must instead begin developing the social skills they’ll need to play harmoniously with one another. They learn how to empathize with each other, how to share, and how to clearly communicate what they want. These are skills that directly translate to avoiding behaviours that are unwanted or harmful, like bullying or aggression.
Finding the Right Equipment to Create a Playground for Children
When kids get to spend time on a playground, it’s some of the most valuable time they’ll ever have. At SPI Plastics, we produce the indoor and outdoor playground equipment you need to create your own playground, anywhere in the world. Established in 1972, we’re known for our high-quality products and our unparalleled, friendly customer service.