Riyadh "Riyadh Daily"
A Global Study by The LEGO Group found that 93% of parents in the KSA believe that play builds stronger family bonds

When reminiscing upon our fondest childhood memories, whether it involved playing with our favorite toys, friends, siblings or parents; it is evident that the act of ‘play’ laid a strong foundation for us to develop into the adults we are today. Beyond cognitive development, play benefits parents and children alike to build closer bonds. That being said, the responsibilities of busy modern life can rapidly fill up our days, and often the fun of parenting can get lost. Yet parents are more eager than ever to find creative and playful ways to share special moments with their children. 

Play is the work of children; it is through various stages of play that children learn to navigate their world. Although most children in Saudi Arabia are privileged with an abundance of toys, they may lack the frequent presence of a parental figure or guardian during playtime. Simultaneously, much like their parents, children are navigating the constraints of busy schedules, from school to extra-curricular activities, which has limited the time to engage in free play. 

According to the LEGO® Play Well 2022 study*, the act of play has been associated with many benefits that extend to the whole family and highlights a clear link between the hours spent playing together and the overall happiness of families. 

The study found that play benefits the family unit as a whole; with 95% of parents in the KSA agreeing that play improves their family’s happiness and wellbeing. Parents admit to struggling to make play a priority due to having busy schedules, yet, their children’s schedules also seem to be equally demanding.

In the KSA, 26% of parents claimed that having too much work is the key barrier getting in the way of playing more as a family, whilst 25% of children in the KSA said that not having enough time was a key barrier getting in the way of playtime. 

A simple way that families can be inspired to Play Well, can include making play part of their existing daily rituals like driving to school and doing household chores. Chores do not have to be a boring process, a simple way to make them more fun is to turn on some music and gamify the experience. Parents can also add an element of competition by trying to beat the clock, as they all join in to clear away the dishes, turning chores into precious bonding time.

“Aside from their usual extra-curricular activities, children love having something to look forward to. To nurture this, parents can schedule a designated weekly game day. Committing to making play a routine priority, not only fosters the healthy development of children but helps families bond, lose the sense of time and experience deep contentment,” said Aalia Thobani, Communication and Connection Specialist. 

Beyond everyday responsibilities, time spent on technology is also a key factor holding families back from spending more time playing together. Both children and parents in the KSA admit to spending a large portion of their time on their technological devices, with 66% of parents claiming that their child spends too much time online.

“While technology is inherently ingrained in our lives, ensuring time off-screen and setting time for family is important for children’s overall happiness and wellbeing. The key to combat this technology addiction is to set boundaries, and lead by example in showing your kids how to combat boredom without resorting to screen,” said Aalia Thobani, Communication and Connection Specialist.

“This can look like putting LEGO bricks in front of them, and allowing them to create an imaginary world for them to transport themselves into, similar to what a screen would serve for,” she added. 

In addition to forging closer family bonds, play helps children learn the life skills they need, and offers parents the opportunity to connect with their children. In the KSA, 93% of parents say that play facilitates better communication with their child and helps them get to know their child better (94%). 

It also provides a meaningful way for busy adults to unwind while spending time with their children, as playing together promotes familial bonding. In fact, 95% of parents say play, in return, helps them with their mental being and happiness. 

Although finding time for play opportunities has become a slippery slope for families, the benefits of play are profound for children, families and society. A crucial element in the special moments families remember most, is the quality of the time spent together, where they can playfully immerse themselves in the present and come together to connect, play and create lifelong memories. 

Using play as a tool in parenting is certainly beneficial to the entire family. Most importantly, the effects of family playtime last a lifetime, contributing to the development of a holistic child. By making life more playful, families are equipped with the tools to navigate the world around them and build happier families.

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