The main goal of childhood is to develop essential developmental skills through play, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Children’s toys, crafts and activities are often geared toward improving motor skills, but cognitive abilities are also foundational elements of early childhood development. Engage your youngster in enjoyable games that help develop cognitive, perceptual, emotional and social skills in order to promote good mental health and well being.
Brainteasers, which are healthy exercise games for the mind, improve memory and attention, develop focus, enhance literacy and language skills and even boost children’s IQ. Challenge your child to a different brainteaser from an activity book each night for a quiet evening activity that will keep his mind fit and in shape. Keep the games fresh and interesting for your child with themed brainteasers for each holiday or season.
Despite the bad reputation video games receive, age-appropriate video games played in moderation have many mental health benefits for a child. Video games improve cognitive abilities such as hand-eye coordination, creative thinking and problem-solving skills, according to Dr. Mark Griffiths from the Psychology Division of Nottingham Trent University, and Scott Steinberg for The Modern Parent's Guide. Multiplayer games promote healthy competition and socialization skills and can also help children relieve stress, when played recreationally.
A strong relationship exists between physical fitness and mental wellness, according to the American Heart Association. Exercise children’s bodies and minds at the same time with physical contests and challenges. Take kids to the park, out to the backyard or even in the driveway and host plastic hoop contests, jump roping contests or relay races for a group of kids. You can even create physical activity games for single players with timed ability challenges, such as 40 jumps in one minute.
Puzzles and strategy games -- like chess, for example -- promote cognitive skills such as logic. Other types of tabletop games, however, promote overall mental health as well. Get the family together for a game of cards or a board game. The cooperation and bonding between family members that tabletop games encourage is healthy for everyone’s social and emotional development -- both of which are important to overall mental health.