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By Carmen McWaters

Free time for children

Free time can be wonderful for a child. It gives them a chance to explore, be creative and socialize. All children are unique and so pinpointing an exact amount of free time can be difficult. Parents will have to find a balance that fits their family. Having some sort of free time is an important to a child's happiness and well being. Below are some ways that a child will benefit from having some free time.

It is stress-free. A child who is having free time are not having any adult influence. Which means the child is creating their own expectations, and making their own rules. There is no one to dictate what rules should be followed or how something should be done correctly.

Socializing. When having free time it also provide a time for them to interact with their peers. Sharing, team work, problem solving and how to effectively negotiate are all crucial skills children will obtain.

Being creative. Children can be creative when engaging in free time. They are drawing from their imaginations to make up different characters, different worlds and situations.

Interest and hobbies. Finding out what kind of interest a child has can be done through free play. Parents may notice the child reading on their own. They may become interested in topics such as dinosaurs, science or fashion.

Now we know why letting children have some idle time is beneficial to the child, how can parents help? What should parents do to encourage and have their child enjoy this time? Here are some tips for parents to remember when it comes to free time.

Don't interfere. When a child is engaged in the free time activity do not get involved by trying to correct them if they are play a game wrong or if they have decided to use a hair brush as a microphone. For them this is their time and their world. Observe from a small distance only for safety reason. Unless, a child is about to be hurt or they are about to hurt another just give them their space.

Talk with them. A parent who sits down and talks with their child can find out if they would like to have the extra free time and how much is needed. A child's life can be quite active and full with school, sports and other activities. Although it is never a parent's intention to put pressure on their children to be overactive sometimes it just happens. Also, children may feel the need to fill up their time by their peers who are involved in extracurricular activities.

Free time can be a difficult concept for parents. It means that the parents have to be willing to let go of their children and let them explore, create and imagine. Wanting children to be well-rounded in life is usually a parents No. 1 priority; however, that can cause unwanted pressure and stress for children when their time becomes too full. So, let loose and play!

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