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How Much do Children Love Messy Play?

25 June 2023

Messy play is fun! Most children love the freedom of messy play and discovering new things. Watch them gaze in wonder at bubbles or delight in the splash when jumping in puddles. Even young babies express their satisfaction by repeating actions like smearing a creamy substance. They might wave their hands with joy.

It’s Expressive

Messy plays allows your child to express themselves creatively. If you put down a plastic sheet or give them a paddling pool outside it won’t matter if they spill or mark. You will be surprised by what they can do when given the freedom to make a mess. They can gain so much satisfaction from a painting or sand castle. Just touching different substances and textures is new and exciting for them so being able to construct things with them is amazing.

They Learn to Love Food

Messy play with food can help a child with their appetite. Babies who have explored a variety of textures through touch are more inclined to try new foods. They need to practise bringing items to their mouth on a spoon. Inevitably a lot of it will go down their front as they learn. It takes a lot of hand eye coordination. Once they have mastered these motor skills they can enjoy the independence of feeding themselves.

How to Help Them Enjoy It

Your encouragement, praise and enthusiasm will help a nervous child enjoy messy play. Give them time to explore new objects and textures. They might be hypersensitive to sand or might not like getting mud or paint on themselves. Acclimatise them gradually. Do not force them. Perhaps they would prefer to do some neat colouring. They might prefer play dough to wet substances. 

Social Skills

Messy play in a group is a great opportunity for children to work together and learn by watching one another. It can be tricky for children who are not used to others, however. Encourage them to take turns and respect each other's space. Once they know the boundaries and that other children will be expected to operate within them, they can relax and enjoy the activity. They will pick up social skills, learning to communicate with one another. 

Each child is an individual. Some will pour lentils from one container to another over and over again fascinated while another just isn’t intrigued at all. Keep offering sensory activities, however, as it does help them discover the world.

Messy play helps children understand the world around them while they are having fun. It encourages them to explore and try out new things. It’s a learning as well as fun experience. It helps them develop physically but also gives them confidence. It can help them with concentration as various senses are involved.

Although it can be a hassle for parents and carers, the joy and benefits of messy play for children are plain to see on their faces. Even if you only do it at bath time or outside, give your child the freedom and excitement of messy play.

Photo by Michael Morse

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