How we develop through play 1: The impact of play on personality development


Every child will have fond memories of playing with friends and family. Memories from games and sports to playing tag and pretend. Playtime becomes a crucial part of any child’s day and can help the child with cognitive development. One key area in which playtime can impact the child’s development is in the child’s personality.


People will tell individual stories or experiences of playing as a child. Some may remember a strong parental presence in early childhood, while others may have been left to their own devices. Regardless, parental involvement in a children’s activities can positively or negatively affect the personal development of a child.

Ozden Bademci, Ph.D., observed a mother playing with a 1-year-old child and published the study in the International Journal of Social Sciences. In the study, Bademci observes the interaction between a mother and her son playing, as the mother tends to direct the child’s activities.

One observation involved the son wanting to play a throwing game with a ball, which his mother claimed was for juggling. The mother then, “Redirected the throwing game into the juggling game and then into a stimulation game, which was more structured.” The son seemed okay with playing a different game but, “the way he played was rather mechanical.”

The child displayed interest in playing a specific way and the mother would re-direct or control the game to her desires. In this sense, the son had less involvement in the play and merely went through the motions.

Definition of play

Bademci’s observations highlight an unspoken tenable right: children should be allowed to play on their own for development. Yet, children will need rules and time spent with family for development as well. In Bademci’s study, the mother followed the child around the entire day and controlled much of the child’s activities and games. If the child could be given some space, more cognitive functions and developments could be discovered.

Jones and Bartlett Publishers –JBP — summarize in chapter two of the series, “Recreation and Leisure in Modern Society,” that, “Play may be understood as a form of activity of behavior that is generally non-purposeful in terms of having serious intended outcomes.” Children will play because it is fun, not because it will make them smarter.

The publishers also quote child psychologist, Lawrence K. Frank, in explaining that play, “Is the way he [or she] explores and orients [his or her] self to the actual world of space and time, of things, animals, structures and people.” Children need individual playtime to develop who they will be as an individual. If parents regulate each and every scenario of play for the child, there is less chance for an individual and unique personality to develop.

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How we develop through play part 2: The impact of play on learning

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