Child's Play
By: Ly Vanna. Picture Courtesy of Cambokid. ( June, 2002 Volume 2 No.6 )

Most people in Cambodia believe that child's play is simply part of growing up. Parents hardly even notice when kids are playing except when it becomes too noisy or boisterous. Spending too much time playing, at the expense of helping parents with chores around the house, often lands Cambodian children in trouble, as it does all over the world. Most parents do not like their children to play around constantly. Parents prefer their children to be more disciplined and to spend time on their school-work instead. Children however, prefer to spend their time playing. They sometimes even forget to go to do their homework and are often not interested to help around the house. To children, "Play is fun". According to a book compiled by Cambokids, there should be a balance between play and study. Play is a function of the ego, an attempt to synchronize the bodily and social processes with the self. Play is the life of children; it is not only passing the time. It is learning, discovering, self-expression, discharge, and fun. Playing creates joy for children and provides them with a happy time. Generally, children like to play with the people around their own age. Little girls have their own favorite games while boys have theirs. For instance, girls like playing with toys related to cooking and dolls whilst boys like playing with toy guns and cars. Boys are by nature a little more rugged-they climb around and fight with one another more than the girls would.

Playing is indeed a very important part of a child's growth. It helps to develop their body and mind (physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially). Play enables children to cope with their environment and contributes to the development of social skills. Through playing, children realize their strength, weakness, abilities, interests and desire. They learn to express their feelings and thoughts in the process.

Environment also plays a role in dictating the kind of play. For example, children who live near the river quickly pick up the skill to swim while children who live in the mountainous areas are better at climbing trees. "Children reduce stress, exercise and in their own little ways also conduct research through play," noted Mr. LONG Borom, a Cambokids member who has experience with some 30 to 60 children playing around in his Association for years. He pointed out that play can sometimes also pose to be dangerous if they do not choose the proper toys or the right place ground. Some children imitate what they see on television and find thrill in playing with knives and other sharp objects while others develop a liking for fire without realizing its danger.

By observing children at play, parents can quickly discover their child's potentials and help them develop accordingly. They can recognize the children's characteristics; is their children quiet, aggressive, happy, or friendly, through observing their children play. Mr. LONG Borom stressed the cyclical nature of domestic abuse. He states that most children from domestically violent families always express violent behavior on things or other children while they are playing. Children always play as a group together in school or in village. During they are playing they relieve their problems and develop their thinking and motor processes. They help each other to cope with problems. Children in the same age understand each other better than their elders would. They share their problems or talk to each other as a children's self-help group.