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Why messy play is important (and how to limit the damage)

In a digital age it's very tempting to assign your child screen time - it keeps the little one busy and at the same time, out of your hair.

RELATED: Why sensory toys are the in-thing to buy your kids this Christmas

But, youngsters shouldn't be missing out on messy, or sensory, play argues parenting expert Nikki Bush.

For full, holistic development of a child they need a lot of interaction with the world.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

The skin is the biggest sensory organ in the body and yet it is the one we neglect probably the most.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

Suggestions for sensory play include fun with kinetic sand, mud and that trusted standby, play dough.

Playing with play dough, when they're pushing and pulling and rolling, they're playing their 'sillies' out. They're getting to play their emotions out in a very safe way while also exercising their creativity.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

When you think about playing with mud and dough and water there are no specific rules except for where you play with those things.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

But what about the resulting mess in the home, parents may wail. Well, there are ways to contain it, for example making use of an inflatable tray or kiddies swimming pool.

True creativity is about coming up with an idea, a design within boundaries.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

Those boundaries could be like Apollo 14, when they were going out into space and they had a problem - they had to fit something square into something round or the other way round... they had to work out how to fix it because they had limits in the space capsule. That is true innovation and creativity.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

In the same way, children have to learn to contain a painting on a piece of paper without spilling on to the floor, for example.

For more tips both on encouraging messy play and limiting the damage, take a listen:


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