The importance of play during a crisis

Let’s Play Ireland is a government-led initiative aimed at promoting play for all children living in Ireland during the COVID-19 emergency. They have some excellent resources available at but here at Parent Hub Donegal we are going to post the individual articles to make them as accessible as possible for you. The first piece in on the importance of play during a crisis.

Playing is central to children’s physical, mental, social and emotional health and wellbeing. Children learn through play while developing resilience, flexibility and understanding of their world. Play in families enriches childhood. All children and young people have a right to play.

Play has never been more important, but during this time please follow the HSE advice on physical distancing and wash your hands. For more information go to

Playing helps children stay physically and mental well. It is an everyday part of a healthy and happy
childhood. Play is just as important during a crisis like the current coronavirus pandemic. It helps your child manage their emotions and maintain a sense that everything is and can be ok.
During a crisis, playing is your child’s way to:

  • stay emotionally healthy
  • stay physically active
  • getting some exercise
  • relax and forget about worries
  • make sense of any new experiences and changes in their world
  • cope with feelings that are difficult or frightening.

Playing at home

A great way for you to support the health, happiness and development of your child during the current crisis is to find ways they can play at home. Making time to play and have fun together is good for your relationship with your child and for your own mental well-being.

Playing can also protect your child from some of the negative impacts this crisis could have.
For example:

  • Playing is strongly linked to creativity – it involves imagination and problem solving.
  • Playing helps young children develop by doing and talking. It is also how they learn to think.
  • Playing may involve your child acting and repeating events – this is one way for them to understand what is happening.
  • Acting their feelings helps your child come to terms with them and feel more in control.
  • Playing allows your child to express anger and frustration safely without harming other people, or without getting harmed themselves.
  • Playing allows your child to develop their own strengths and ability to cope.

Being at home for long periods of time and being physically separated from friends, families, routines and cherished places is a new situation for most of us. Playing is a natural and active process that can help us.

You can download the original pdf here The importance of play during a crisis

You can find lots of information about play in a crisis on and on the International Play Association website here