“More time playing means more time engaging your imagination, actively exploring options and making choices while developing the resilience, independence, confidence and coping mechanisms needed to thrive in a constantly changing world.” ~ Rebecca Tortello and Robert Jenkins, UNICEF. A child’s sense of confidence begins developing quite early on and is influenced day by day. For example, when a baby is given positive, loving attention and reactions, it helps to nourish a sense of stability, security, and self-acceptable that evolve into healthy confidence as they move through life. According to a paper published in the Psychological Bulletin (which covered 191 research papers on self-esteem including data from around 165,000 participants), self-esteem first starts to elevate between the ages 4 and 11. During this period, children are undergoing vital social, emotional, and cognitive growth and developing a sense of independence. Play, in particular self-guided play, is incredible confidence fuel as it encourages children to make (and enjoy) their own choices, learning all the way. In play, children problem solve through trial and error, discover what uniquely excites them, and learn how to interact fairly and freely. All of this contributes to a well-rounded individual who trusts and respects themselves. Confident kids are happy kids, and that is a goal many of us believe in! This chart by Playground Equipment is the ultimate collection of reasons why play is so valuable to a child’s confidence. There are quotes from psychologists, educators, and child development experts, fascinating snippets from studies all over the world, and more wonderful insights into the link between play and confidence. It also mentions how play is deemed so essential to healthy development that the United Nations has declared it a human right for all children. It’s official – play and recess must be protected for the sake of happy, healthy, confident kids now and into the future.