Culture Post: Pre-School Play with Friends Lowers Risk of Mental Health Problems Later

Children who learn to play well with others at pre-school age tend to enjoy better mental health as they get older, new research shows. The findings provide the first clear evidence that ‘peer play ability’, the capacity to play successfully with other children, has a protective effect on mental health.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge analyzed data from almost 1,700 children, collected when they were aged three and seven. Those with better peer play ability at age three consistently showed fewer signs of poor mental health four years later. They tended to have lower hyperactivity, parents, and teachers reported fewer conduct and emotional problems, and they were less likely to get into fights or disagreements with other children.

Importantly, this connection generally held true even when the researchers focused on subgroups of children who were particularly at risk of mental health problems. It also applied when they considered other risk factors for mental health—such as poverty levels, or cases in which the mother had experienced serious psychological distress during or immediately after pregnancy.

The findings suggest that giving young children who might be vulnerable to mental health issues access to well-supported opportunities to play with peers—for example, at playgroups run by early years specialists—could be a way to significantly benefit their long-term mental health.

The study was published in Child Psychiatry & Human Development.

Source: MedicalXpress
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-06-pre-school-friends-lowers-mental-health.html

Find more culture news on HomeWord’s Culture Blog, named in 2022 for the seventh consecutive year, as one of the top 50 culture blogs on the planet!

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has over 35 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on Crosswalk.com and Religiontoday.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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