SSM Health Medical Minute – The importance of play in childhood development

ST. LOUIS - A new clinical report emphasizes the importance of play in children’s lives, to the point where the authors are advising pediatricians to write a prescription for play.

Dr. Rebecca Melvin, a pediatrician and internal medicine physician at SSM Health Medical Group, says the overdependency on electronic media, limited access to outdoor play spaces or perceived risk of play environments often impeded parents from encouraging their children to engage in play. She emphatically says children under the age of 2 should not be given screen time, despite the need for parents to have something to entertain toddlers for short periods.

Dr. Melvin says play is especially important in developing 21st-century skills including social, emotional, language and cognitive skills, all needed by the next generation in an economically competitive world that requires collaboration and innovation. It helps manage stress, improve academic skills and helps build stable, nurturing relationships.

Play with parents and peers is critical to the development of emotional and social skills, language and cognitive skills all needed by the next generation to compete in a world that requires collaboration. Play is fun and often spontaneous which results in discovery, functioning skills and contributes to school readiness.

To learn more about pediatricians at the SSM Health Medical Group, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​