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Child’s Play: 20 Ways It's Different Around The World

Walls covered in food, Lego bricks all over the floor, and icky insects in jars: our world is a colorful playground.

Play is essential for child development. Psychologists believe that play benefits a child’s motor, social, and emotional skills. It helps parents and children bond. Playtime is also a great opportunity for kids to make friends.

There are numerous outdoor activities, board games, and tech gadgets that can engage kids. In fact, toys have no gender, so boys and girls need a wide variety of toys. Blocks can promote a child’s motor skills, while dolls can benefit their emotional intelligence.

What's more, imagination and creativity make better toys than expensive objects and fancy devices. As expert Deborah MacNamara says, "Children need to play, but this doesn’t require toys. They will explore their environment and examine articles that are interesting to them - from pots and pans to blocks." Interestingly, imaginary friends are also common in childhood.

From jumping and drawing to group interactions and playing alone, play is magical and diverse. So, here are 20 ways child’s play is different around the world. In the end, though, kids are just kids – sweet and innocent beings who love ice-cream, hopscotch, and screen time.

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20 Being A Free Spirit In Afghanistan

Play is essential for child development. Since toys and sports have no gender, girls in Afghanistan are not worried to reveal their athletic skills and enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, volleyball is a wonderful sport which balances individual and team skills all at the same time.

It’s interesting to mention that some families in Afghanistan raise their girls as boys. Similar to the popular gender-neutral parenting in the West, bacha posh is a practice (popular in Afghanistan and Pakistan) in which a girl is raised as a boy. According to nationalgeorgraphic.com, this gives girls access to education, independence, and travel.

19 Gelato In Italy

From Japan to Argentina and from Canada to the Philippines, there’s one thing kids all over the world adore – yummy ice-cream! After a long day playing hopscotch or hours of building mud castles, there’s nothing better than a scoop of ice-cream to celebrate the end of the day.

We should mention that gelato (meaning frozen) is among the most popular ice-creams around the globe. It was the Sicilian businessman Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli who introduced gelato to Europe and the rest of the world. Figures show that in the US alone, sales in 2014 hit $214 million. So, what’s your favorite ice-cream flavor, mama?

18 The White Magic Of Eastern Europe

Children are our future. With their innocent smiles and sweet laughter, they can conquer the world. In Eastern Europe, in particular, there’s a phenomenon called child-centrism. Parents put children on a pedestal, which is the most precious family value. Veronika Turgel, professor at the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia told the Ogonyok magazine, "Childhood is understood in Russia as an absolute value, which becomes a source of exclusively positive emotions and experiences."

Moms and dads simply enjoy playing with their little bundle of joy in the snow. Experts explain this phenomenon with the nostalgic marks the Soviet state left on people.

17 What It Takes To Smile - Burkina Faso

While Santa and his little helpers have long lists and heavy bags full of lovely presents, developmental psychologists admit that kids do not need toys to play with. It doesn’t take much for a child to be happy: just give them a tire and a loving friend to laugh with.

Just look at the sweet picture above! In fact, not many children in Burkina Faso play with tech gadgets and expensive toys. Stats show that 80% of the population there relies on agriculture and natural ways of living, so it’s normal for kids to explore all the curious -everyday - things around them.

16 The More, The Merrier - South Africa

Social interactions are vital for a child’s development. In an era where kids spend lots of time online, team games and outdoor activities are still precious. From football to Pokemon Go, children need friends to celebrate their joy, victory, and chocolate. And as we can see - the more, the merrier.

It’s interesting to mention that many babies in South Africa are formula fed. Due to the high prevalence of diseases, families can even receive free formula to feed their little ones; simply because a virus can be transmitted through breastmilk. Well, it doesn’t matter if you give your little one formula or breastmilk – they just need enough energy to play.

15 The Playful Rituals Of India

Childhood comes with fluffy toys, screen time, and sweet cake. However, some kids work hard to go to school and afford basic toys. In some developing countries, children often work to help their families.

When it comes to playtime, though, children are all the same. As we can see from the picture above, kids don’t need fancy skateboards to be happy. Any board looks simply cool! We should note that according to UNICEF, sports-based games are vital for a child’s development. Such games can teach kids essential skills, as well as self-love and confidence.

14 Wild Wild West

The world around us is colorful and diverse. In our Western society, childhood has numerous advantages. Kids have access to education and daycare, they can choose what clothes to wear, and they can send a letter to Santa - asking him for a new Teddy bear or an expensive smartphone.

Technology also plays a crucial role. In the US, in particular, kids spend more than 14 hours a week watching TV. Children play video games and chat online. More and more children have a smartphone. At the same time, team games, such as dodgeball, baseball, basketball, and football, are still very popular.

13 Some Things Never Change - the UK

Young children playing safely outside in the street. Gladstone Street, Elephant and Castle, south London SE1. England. 1975. The large ball with handles is a Spacehopper.

London might be one of the most exciting places in the world, but kids are just kids. As we can see from the picture above, some things never change. Kids enjoy playing on the streets, hanging out with friends, and playing fun games like Tag.

We should mention an interesting fact; the Industrial Revolution that changed our world started in the UK. Many toddlers and children worked full-time to help their families. Now, child labor is considered immoral. As a result, more and more charities are trying to provide the comfort of childhood that kids all over the world deserve.

12 Balkan Folklore - Bulgaria

From lush fields to sand dunes, Bulgaria, one of the most beautiful Balkan pearls, has lots to offer. Kids can camp under the stars, families can enjoy a vacation by the sea, and schools can organize numerous hiking adventures. Being on the edge of Europe, child’s play is a mixture of ancient traditions, modern technology, and oriental desserts.

Interestingly, as Bulgaria is defined as one of the fastest-shrinking nations around the globe, folk dance education is becoming more and more popular across the country. In fact, many Balkan countries emphasize the importance of their rick folklore rituals and beautiful traditional clothing.

11 Eastern Happiness And Smiles

Asia is a diverse continent. Interestingly, it’s the largest and most populous continent in the world. The Far East, in particular, has always been a source of travel inspiration and mysticism. The Silk Route, for instance, was one of the major and most significant networks in the whole world.

Today, China is one of the fastest growing economies across the globe. Due to the newest advancements in technology, health care and education, the state has relaxed its well-known one-child policy. It’s interesting to mention that more and more students and families are willing to study and work in China - where the English language is increasing in popularity.

10 Mastering The Art Of Living - Vietnam

Vietnam is another wonderful place where kids enjoy playing and interacting with each other. As we can see from the beautiful picture above, kids all over the world love cycling. Experts agree that cycling is a great activity. It helps kids learn independence and vital motor skills. It helps them improve their balance and spatial awareness.

So, if you’re looking for a lovely Christmas present for your little one, ask Santa’s elves to make a bike. There are different sizes on the market, so your bundle of joy will be comfortable and happy. Just don’t forget to get them a helmet!

9 Innocent Smiles From Thailand

Thailand is another nation in Asia, which attracts families and travelers. We should note that Buddhist practices play a crucial role in Thailand, with more than 95% of the population following Buddhism. Kids can also become monks and live in peace and harmony. As we can see, devoting their lives to Buddhism can bring lots of smiles.

At the same time, Thailand is a land of contrasts. We should mention that the national sport of Thailand is Muay Thai or Thai boxing. Although Muay Thai is accompanied by national music, we should agree that boxing is not a peaceful sport.

8 What More Could You Wish For? - India

Play is vital for child development. Nevertheless, kids do not need toys. As explained above, expert Deborah MacNamara says, “Children need to play, but this doesn’t require toys. They will explore their environment and examine articles that are interesting to them - from pots and pans to blocks." We should note that blocks can help kids develop their spatial skills.

After all, our world is a colorful playground and there’s no need for expensive toys or trendy items. As we can see from the awesome picture above, children in India don’t need much to be happy. Sticks make perfect toys!

7 Carnivals And Games In Brazil

Brazil is a wonderful place. With its natural wonders and friendly communities, Brazil is a popular destination. Although some children there live in poor communities, the government is encouraging more and more girls to pursue education and access health care. And there’s no doubt that the Carnival in Brazil is famous worldwide.

In fact, experts reveal that dress-up play has a vital role in a child's development. It boosts a child’s imagination, emotional skills, and problem-solving. So, even if you can afford to visit the Carnival, mama, encourage your little one to play dress-up at home.

6 Kids (And Cats) Love Boxes - Ghana

There’s something about boxes that attracts cats… and children. As explained earlier, children do not need many toys to be happy. Perhaps in the eyes of your little one, the best thing about Christmas is all the boxes and wrapping paper. Just look at the little cutie above.

We should mention that in Ghana, children represent wealth and family values. Therefore, pregnant women are highly valued. Many women seek spiritual protection or carry a special doll as it’s believed that expectant women are vulnerable to playful spirits. When it comes to pregnancy and birth rituals, our world is simply unique.

5 The Little Monks Of Myanmar

Just like in Thailand, kids in Myanmar value the colorful spectrum of Buddhist practices. As we can see from the cheerful picture above, many kids can become monks and pursue spiritual happiness. As a matter of fact, training children to become Buddhist monks has a long history in Myanmar.

Yet, kids are just kids. And kids love soccer. Playing soccer can be not only fun but beneficial as well. It helps boys and girls develop vital social and motor skills, as well as self-regulation.

4 Technology Matters

Technology is an integrated part of play. Children all over the world use phones to share pictures, chat with friends, watch videos, and play online games. Tech tools benefit education and motivate students. And let’s admit it – some robotic toys are simply awesome.

At the same time, technology has numerous negative effects. Doctors claim that technological gadgets can harm one’s emotional and physical state. In fact, research shows that technology leads to a decrease in people’s communication and self-esteem. Therefore, parents must help children find a balance between screen-time, board games, and outdoor activities.

3 The Power Of Nature - Peru

The Andes, the majestic mountain ranges that cross South America, inspire family nomads and locals. In Peru, in particular, nature plays a crucial role in people’s lives. It’s interesting to mention that 34% of children work to help their families. Yet, when it comes to playing, kids always find some free time. Just look at the picture above – these kids are simply adorable!

We should note that social skill activities are vital for older children who have to learn to balance their hormones and communicate effectively all at the same time. What’s more, social and team games can be very entertaining for teens.

2 Community Support & The Gypsies

Our world is a dynamic and colorful place. Rituals vary between families and cultures. Perhaps one of the most interesting ethnic groups is that of the Irish travelers. Gypsy kids grow up in big families. They travel and survive off the land. Gypsy girls, in particular, rarely finish secondary education and dream of having children instead. Yet, Gypsy kids also love to play, dance, and sing. Experts reveal that music is beneficial for child development.

We should note that there’s a difference between the Romani people of mainland Europe and the Irish travelers of the British Isles. The Romani originated in northern India and spread across the globe.

1 Four-Legged Friends

Kids all over the glove love toys, games, ice-cream… and animals. Therapists reveal that pets have a beneficial effect on a child’s development. Having a pet can teach kids vital skills and responsibility. It boosts social and motor skills. Last but not least, pets can be great friends and therapists.

If you want to try, mama, it’s never too early to choose a pet for your little angel. Just start with something small. As expert Mark Smith says, "Small, furry pets like hamsters and gerbils are often chosen as first pets for children, but they can be very rewarding for adults."

References: boredpanda.com, nationalgeographic.com, theirworld.org, todaysparent.com

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