UK Parents: Our Children Are Overscheduled

A parenting survey of more than 2,000 families has found that children's play is 'too structured' and 'timetabled' by their parents - not giving them enough time to play by themselves.

The over-diarising of children's play between the ages of four and nine - which 71 per cent of parents admitted doing - rather than letting them make up their own games can cause an increase in bad behaviour and a lack of imagination in children, according to a report released today.

The survey, conducted by Persil's Free Play Initiative, revealed that 71 per cent of the 2,358 parents surveyed admitted that they 'always plan play and entertainment activities' for their kids.

The timetabling of play by parents means that children are not encouraged to 'make up their own games', such as climbing trees, making mud pies or simply having an imaginary friend, the research showed.

The figures also revealed that over a third of parents said that after playing a computer game their children become hyper and agitated.

The report said: 'Free, unstructured play such as creating pretend games allows children to explore the world around them and teaches children to express themselves, developing key skills for adulthood such as decision making skills and self-confidence.

'Parents also report a difference in children's behaviour following participation in different types of play with nearly half of parents reporting that involvement in free play activities noticeably develop their child's confidence while a further one in…

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