It’s not unusual for a child to have anxiety. According to the CDC, anxiety and depression affect millions of children every year. There are many ways to support children with anxiety, and playgrounds are one of them. While many children with anxiety do have trouble joining in with other kids, playgrounds provide a safe space to navigate social situations and meet new friends.
Let’s look at the many ways that playgrounds can help children overcome social anxiety.
Navigate the Outdoors at Their Pace
Whether at school or daycare, kids with anxiety enjoy exploring their surroundings on their own terms. Many start slow instead of jumping right into things. Eventually, they take small steps outside their comfort zone and try something new.
Inclusive playground equipment ensures there is something for everyone to enjoy. Make sure your playground offers a good mix of activities so that kids can run, jump, climb and swing. A small, grassy area is also a great choice for kids who prefer to sit and talk.
Interact with Many Different Children
Shy kids have a tendency to observe first, play nearby and then eventually join in the fun. As they interact with their peers, they have the opportunity to communicate, solve problems and work together with others. These are all great skills to have in the classroom!
Schools and daycares should have interactive playgrounds that encourage kids to play together. This way, even kids with social anxiety will be slowly introduced to new children and experiences.
Practice and Master New Skills
Some kids with social anxiety aren’t going to be ready to open up to others right away. And that’s okay! A daycare playground still offers plenty of benefits, even if a child chooses to play alone. They can focus on building skills and practicing new things like climbing up the rock wall.
As kids reach their goals, they gain confidence and tackle some of their fears in the process. For instance, if a child is scared to go down a slide and finally works up the courage to do so, they’ll see that it wasn’t so scary after all! These experiences go a long way in reducing anxiety.
Get Moving and Pump Up Endorphins
Physical activity is also an effective way to combat stress and anxiety. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins in the brain, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s also excellent for brain development, cognition and immunity.
Also, when kids play outdoors, they’re exposed to Vitamin D, which is essential to mental health. This unstructured play time also teaches kids effective strategies for managing anxiety without medication.
Playgrounds Help Kids with Social Anxiety
The playground might not seem like the best place to take a child with social anxiety, but it actually is! Parents and guardians might find it best to use the park when it’s not as busy, but eventually, they’ll watch their child thrive in this setting. To discuss a playground for your school or daycare, contact Park and Rec Pros today.