Children prefer running free outside over organised activities like hide and seek

  • last month
Children would rather run free while playing outside over more organised games of hide and seek or sports.

A poll, of 2,000 parents of children aged 6-10 and the kids themselves, found 57 per cent named running around as their favourite thing to do.

And 43 per cent wish they could do it more.

It also emerged 75 per cent of kids feel happiest when they’re free to ‘play their own way’ without structure.

And 53 per cent get excited when they get to choose what they want to do for the day, with 54 of mums and dads wanting to incorporate more of this into their daily routines.

The research was commissioned by Dairylea, which has unveiled a giant backpack containing children’s top 10 psychologist-approved items which enable them to enjoy unstructured play, including binoculars, magnifying glasses and telescopes.

Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, behavioural child psychologist, who is working with the cheese brand, said: “Play, particularly unstructured play, helps develop children's emotional, physical and cognitive skills, builds confidence and aids social and decision-making skills.

“This form of play is proven to support cognitive, physical, emotional and social development - but at a more granular level boosts imagination, problem-solving, social skills and creativity.

“It’s hugely beneficial for all the family to experience these firsts and moments of discovery together.”

The study also found 33 per cent of kids who enjoy playing outside named exploring as their preferred activity, while climbing trees (20 per cent), and paddling in water (19 per cent) were also popular.

It’s not just good for the children though as 52 per cent of parents feel happy and 26 feel calm when they let their children play freely.

While 35 per cent per cent those surveyed, via OnePoll, claimed their favourite way to spend time together as a family is exploring all nature has to offer, or taking a picnic on a day out (32 per cent).

But parents take their children on an average of three fewer days out a month now than they used to, with 76 per cent citing cost as the driving force behind this change.

Instead, 57 per cent opt to let their children play indoors with toys to fill their free time together.

The constraints of everyday routine can also leave little time for families to explore freely and enjoy moments of pure playfulness together, with 59 per cent prioritising school, hobbies and their children’s friends, leaving little time for other activities.

Clo Darie Lheureux, from Dairylea, which is launching ‘Discovery Days’ in partnership with Trainline to offer £10 off family rail tickets, said: “We believe it’s important to give children the freedom to discover but recent strains on family life - with the Cost of Living crisis and the pandemic - have prevented families from taking on new experiences.

"We hope that this helps families to discover new things together and enjoy the benefits of unstructured play.”