Go Ahead, Jump in the Mud

By November 16, 2016Parkland Players

Picture this; there has just been a heavy rain (as frequently occurs in the Lower Mainland). The sky is gray, the ground is wet, there are puddles everywhere and the areas where the soil meets water have turned to mud. Despite the soccer ball, and the bike, and the various other toys you have available, your child naturally heads straight for the mud. And all you want to do is get them out of that mess, I mean who knows what kinds of insect-like creatures might be swimming in that mud puddle? And will the stains ever come out of their clothes? And for goodness sakes you have all these other, less messy activities right here! This might be the reaction a lot of parents have to such a situation, and understandably so! Mud is messy, dirty, wet earth. But to children, mud is also absolutely amazing! It is nature’s play dough. And so, lets discuss why maybe it’s not just okay, but beneficial to let your child dig into that mud.

To start with, playing in the mud can be considered a joyful experience. Children of course are already aware of this, but now, so are researchers. They have determined that playing in mud can increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a natural chemical messenger in our bodies, and higher levels of serotonin are associated with greater happiness and decreased levels of depression.

Playing in the mud can also have health benefits…sounds weird right? But due to the sanitization level of today’s world, childhood allergies and asthma are actually increasing. Exposure to dirt and germs (like in mud) can actually help build up the immune system.

Mud also has a whole host of cognitive and learning benefits. The serotonin molecule mentioned earlier has also been shown to relate to improved cognitive function at higher levels. Additionally, children engage in great sensory play in the mud. They also, create a social environment that involves cooperation, communication, and problem solving skills. Plus, the sculpting nature of mud play employs artistic and creativity skills. The open-endedness (meaning children can create whatever they want, there are no rules) is beneficial for sense of self and confidence in children, and it allows children to choose how much and in which ways they want to get involved in mud play. Giving children choice, or agency, also contributes to their sense of self and their confidence levels in positive ways.

Lastly, playing in the mud inspires a connection to nature and the environment, which is incredibly valuable to instil in today’s children.

So, next time your child runs straight for that mud puddle and pauses to look back at you before they dive right in, maybe you let them. Maybe you tell them to go ahead, jump in the mud.

Source: https://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/2016/the-benefits-of-mud-play (all information above is taken from this source)


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