How Outdoor Play Helps Emotional Development


All outdoor play is highly beneficial and teaches our children the skills we all take for granted. Outdoor play is possible anywhere such as the garden, local or school playground, countryside or local park. The learning possibilities are immense and always great fun.

Outdoor play helps children to develop socially, emotionally, cognitively and imaginatively. All of these skills are very important as they enable children to understand and enjoy the world around them. The only way children learn these skills is through practical experience because they help the brain to develop.

Emotional development is particularly important as it enables children to understand how their actions affect others. They also learn how to deal with conflict, how to take it in turns, encourage their peers and console unhappy friends. Being able to read other people’s emotions and understand your own make it easier to form friendships and work with other people.

What Is Outdoor Play?

Outdoor play is an essential childhood experience and one we all fondly remember, as adults. There is an endless selection of activities to participate in including making mud pies, building dens, making sandcastles, playing in a playground, hide and seek and enjoying imaginary adventures. Children of all ages relish the idea of playing with friends in the great outdoors. They become stronger and fitter as a result.

Schools recognise outdoor play as an essential part of children’s development and invest in forest days and outdoor classrooms. Classroom learning is important for academic achievement and explaining the world around them but does not educate the whole child. There is a huge sense of freedom in outdoor play allowing children to freely enjoy new experiences.

Playing outside helps children to develop physically, emotionally, cognitively, imaginatively and improve fine and gross motor skills. They are able to interact with other children teaching them how to take turns, communicate and cooperate with each other. Children also learn how to entertain themselves and play independently.

Why Is Emotional Development Important?

Emotional development is the understanding of feelings in themselves and others. Being able to define how you are feeling and express it appropriately helps children to have greater control of their emotions later on in life. Understanding how others feel and how to change the way you act towards others is an essential skill for all future relationships.

Taking turns and sharing with other children helps children to control their emotions and sort out problems in a kind way. Children who are not in control of their emotions tend to lash out either verbally or physically and cause great distress. The child who is unable to control their emotions will find it difficult to make and retain friends in the future. They will also sabotage good experiences if they do not get their negative emotions in perspective.

Children who recognise what happiness and success feels like are more likely to set themselves challenges to feel the emotional reward. Those who recognise the feeling of sadness and failure are able to express themselves and look for ways to learn from their mistakes. A child who knows how to find contentment and peace will be able to cope better with adversity in everyday life.

People with high emotional IQs are just those who understand their own and others’ emotions well. They are able to change tack if a conversation is going awry and able to turn around a negative interaction into a positive one. Once children learn that screaming and stamping your feet doesn’t get them their own way, they learn to cooperate.

If you would like to find out more about outdoor playground equipment contact us and we would be delighted to offer advice.


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