When children are in charge of their own play, it provides a foundation for their future mental health as older children and adults. Gray outlines five main benefits:
1. Play gives children a chance to find and develop a connection to their own self-identified and self-guided interests.
2. It is through play that children first learn how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self control, and follow rules.
3. Children learn to handle their emotions, including anger and fear, during play.
4. Play helps children make friends and learn to get along with each other as equals.
5. Most importantly, play is a source of happiness.