Encouraging children to play free #PetitsFilousPlayFree

How often do you hear those immortal words “I’m bored!” spill from your child’s mouth?

It is something I hear fairly frequently in my house, especially after I have enforced time limits on their technology.

The question is, what do you do about it?

Do you ever wonder what would happen if you just let them be bored, encouraging them to play free?

Play is an important part of child development – from physical development of their muscles and motor skills, to the development of cognitive and communication skills and social/emotional growth.

Research by Play England shows kids today often lead more structured lives; with timetables of classes and activities. In some cases, play has been ‘institutionalised’ into structured, development-oriented activities in which parents are often excluded.

To a certain extent, our family is guilty of this. Eliza and Isaac both do after-school clubs, attend Beavers and Cubs and they all go to swimming lessons, however, I try to make time for free-play time too.

I always joke that the kids always fight and they do bicker and argue, however, when left to their own devices it is lovely to see them making up their own games and playing nicely, whether it be in the house, the garden or out and about exploring nature at its best.Pumpkins

I am working with Petits Filous and Britmums who want to ensure Free Play doesn’t become a thing of the past. This is why they are launching a campaign which aims to champion Free Play and the benefits of it by encouraging parents to embrace it as part of their child’s day.

Petits Filous

The key feature of Free Play is letting kids get bored sometimes and allowing them to find their own solutions – without reaching for the technology. It should be child-led and child-driven, however, that doesn’t mean that adults never join in, but rather that adults do not control the content or direction of Free Play.


The best environment for Free Play is where parents know their children are safe and where it’s ok to make a mess or get mucky.

Free Play

Outdoor Play

Outdoor play and natural settings provide a sensory-rich environment for physical development and natural learning – how often does your child pick up a stick and start playing with it?

Avon Heath

Indoor Play

Indoor pretend play fosters creativity, brain development and social skills. It could be as simple as making up stories with dolls, working together to build a car or train track or solving problems with building bricks such as DUPLO or LEGO.

Hot Wheels

Petits Filous provides your child with the goodness of calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones. Furthermore, a recent Change4Life campaign launched by Public Health England recommends Petits Filous – with less than 100 calories per serving – as a healthy snack for kids and their Petits Filous pouches are the perfect snack for on the go as they can be kept out of the fridge for five hours and don’t not need a spoon. Learn more about the nutritional benefits of Petits Filous at petitsfilous.co.uk

Join me at the Britmums Twitter chat on Tuesday 16th January at 13:00 and tell us how you encourage your children to Play Free.

To take part simply tweet between 13:00 – 14:00 GMT about the benefits of Free Play and how parents encourage it using the hashtag #PetitsFilousFreePlay, and following @BritMums. Tag @thinking_parent to ask Anita Cleare any questions. 10 lucky winners, chosen at random, will win a John Lewis voucher worth £25.

In the meantime, head over to the Petits Filous Facebook page and watch their free play videos. They are full of hints and tips to get you started.

Disclaimer: I’m working with Petits Filous and BritMums promoting the #PetitsFilousPlayFree campaign about the importance of free play.

49 thoughts on “Encouraging children to play free #PetitsFilousPlayFree

  1. Erika Parker says:

    It’s funny, isn’t it, when a child prefers to play with the wrapping on a present she’s received than with the expensive toy. Always makes me laugh. But that’s kids for you. They do need to learn how to play and free play is the best way.

  2. Jacinta says:

    They look like they are having so much fun. I love the picture of your little boy in the pumpkin patch. Thanks for taking part in the campaign. Commenting on behalf of BritMums.

  3. Indeed outdoor activities are great way for kids to learn. Win win situation, learning and having fun at the same time.

  4. My kids love free play, and I encourage it a lot.

  5. Aby says:

    Free play is so important. What a fantastic campaign, we will be getting outside more and enjoying lots of free play.

  6. I really like the idea of Petit filous encouraging the concept of ‘free play’ that is not controlled by adult direction and instead child led. What a fantastic idea.

  7. Ami Rose says:

    I really like the idea of Free Play and children being given the freedom to play how they choose, run about, get mucky, fall over a few times, it’s all good for them. Some children are given far too many boundaries. Although I can imagine myself being the sort of parent to worry a lot!

    Ami xxx

  8. Corina Blum says:

    I agree that free play is so important. My 5 year old loves free play and often wants to stay at home and make up her own games at the weekend. Strangely it’s my 3 year old who finds it harder. He needs someone to make play happen otherwise he’s always asking for the tv. It can be a constant battle to find exciting things for him to do to make him not want the telly!

  9. Talya says:

    Free play is so important for our littles and I do think that free play in the home or in our own back garden can bring on some of the best free play times for children. I think some of the best free play happens during lazy weekend mornings when nobody gets dressed til 11am!!

  10. Katy Stevens says:

    It’s so important to let children play, develop and learn how to entertain themselves too. What a great initiative!

  11. Jon says:

    Really important post this. I wish so much that children had more outdoor playtime than indoors but sadly I do think the rubbish weather in this country plays a bit factor!

  12. Jess says:

    Free play is so important children can learn so much more for free play

  13. Both mine love being outside! Although I feel as though it’s not like when we were kids and use to disappear for the whole day! Lego is probably one of Monkeys favourite toys. Although even that now comes in kit form and so is structured! This is what you will make! Look forward to hearing more about it

  14. Laura H says:

    This is such a great idea and I feel like its something that adults should do too?! Just lock the phone away for a few hours and see how you occupy yourself..

  15. Afshan Nasim says:

    What a great concept, yes its better to be out doors and enjoy the FreePlay activities. My son loved Petits Filous when he was young!

  16. Such a fabulous scheme/idea. I think there is nothing better than the opportunity for children to be children and to learn by doing. Great campaign in my eyes

  17. My wife is in a profession where she encourages free play for the Children and it can be so rewarding. Really loved this post.

  18. Melanie says:

    This is great – play should be carefree, unstructured and organic to aid child development x

  19. I think being outdoors really makes it easier

  20. Dannii says:

    My daughter is only one years old, but already I am very keen for her to play freely and explore the things she loves to do.

  21. lisa prince says:

    im home educator and think its needed for children to pay free and learn free s i love this post

  22. I think free play is very important and I have been encouraging it wit all 3 of my little ones. The only problem is as they get older they end up with so many after school activities there isn’t much time left for this form of play which is a shame.

  23. Lynne Harper says:

    We are very much for free play in my house. Such a great way for little ones to let their imaginations run wild. One of my twins prefers free play to ipad time ha x

  24. I agree with you. Free Play is definitely so important and we also do it at home. I also think that letting our kids be bored is vital so they can use their imagination and find new ways to entertain themselves.

  25. Sticks are the best aren’t they? I’m sure my kids prefer them to any proper toys!

  26. Kate says:

    I agree, free play is so important – my boys love to play outside, and I love watching them using their imaginations! It’s amazing the games they can come up with when left to their own devices!

  27. Grant R says:

    I joined in the twitter chat and learned quite a bit. I’ll certainly be putting this into practice with my youngsters 🙂

  28. Stephanie says:

    I love seeing them playing outside and free play. Mine love going to the woods and finding nature’s playground to explore

  29. Free play is so important and leaving children to it, to use their imaginations to keep themselves occupied 🙂 We need to do more of this in 2018 and not over schedule x

  30. Claire says:

    Free play is a great idea. Aww looks like you have been getting out and about a lot. Great campaign.

  31. Joanna says:

    I do agree that free play time it is very important in a child’s life. Having free time to play and do whatever they want, children boost their immune system (when they play outside), develop their social skills when they play with friends and also boost their confidence.

  32. Jenni says:

    Love the look of concentration on their faces. Free play to me is the best form of play for development. I enjoy seeing Lucas play with everyday items and turn them into his own inventions

  33. I love that BritMums and Petit Filous are running this campaign. Free play is so important. I used to always give into my daughters ‘I’m Bored’ cries until I read somewhere that boredom is the best thing for kids, because it encourages them to be more creative. Since I read that we encourage free play daily and I’ve found that it really has sparked my daughter to become more creative, independent and resourcesful with things. I also notice that when she free plays, she tends to play with things that aren’t necessarily toys. I found her the other day turning an empty egg box into a Paw Patroller and she often plays with various things found around the house (cushions make great forts and even though she has a tent in her room, under my bed makes a great house).

  34. Nadine Hill says:

    I do believe that free play is hugely important – it develops creativity and problem solving skills. This sounds like a fab initiative.

  35. I am a big fan of free play, I encourage my children to do it all the time and now they are 3 & 4 they really embrace it and it is lovely to watch their imagination grow x

  36. Sarah Bailey says:

    I used to spend so much time out in the outdoors when I was a child, I couldn’t imagine it being any different and then of course before my health went down the drain I used to help out at the kids session at the local Wildlife Trust and it was great seeing kids pond dipping and trying to catch frogs.

  37. This is such an important post for people to read, thank you for writing it! I love your blog too 🙂

  38. Christy says:

    I agree – free play is so important! Sometimes I feel a bit guilty for just letting my son get on with it and not having something structured and educational going on, but I remind myself it’s actually good for him to figure out things on his own and not be led every step of the way. Looking forward to the twitter chat.

  39. Nikki Thomas says:

    Such an important message. I genuinely think that many kids have never had the chance to play free as they are always overstimulated by devices and parents. Although the boys are now device mad, I often let my daughter play and I love listening to her making up games and imaginary play

  40. Amy Treasure says:

    I now realise that I don’t need to feel guilty when I hear “I’m bored” I think so often I’ve tried to fill time for my children rather than letting them be bored. This is such a great campaign. Lovely pics Kara!

  41. We love free play – it has so many benefits for child development -such a brilliant initiative of Petit Filous to support. xx

  42. Louisa says:

    What a fabulous initiative! You are right, so much of our children’s time is structured and planned ahead for them. Giving them the chance to be bored and find solutions to that through play will definitely benefit them long term.

  43. I used to play free all the time as a kid as you just learn to amuse yourself. I think there’s far too much choice now for kids x

  44. I’m a big fan of free play and my girls are both able to and love making their own fun.

  45. Talya says:

    Free play is so important. I try to keep most afternoons and weekends free for free play and only have a couple of clubs booked in as it’s so important for them to decompress through free play.

  46. Oh dear, I hear that a lot from T. And yes, I do encourage her to think of ways to play and thankfully, she does find a lot of things to do after complaining about being bored 🙂

  47. Three cheers for the importance to letting them get mucky and getting outside even when it’s not perfect weather!

  48. Jon says:

    I think indoor free play is great you just have to accept all the clearing up afterwards that will come lol

  49. Like you I tend to load my two up with clubs and activities. I think I worry what will happen if there’s no focus to their time. This is a great campaign, though. Really makes you think.

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