You might have fond memories of building forts during your childhood where you used to spend some time alone. If you have a family now, your kids may also be doing the same. In fact, the COVID-19 quarantine seems to have intensified this activity among many children.
Maureen Healy is a child development expert and the author of The Emotionally Healthy Child who believes that children build forts so as to get some privacy. When kids feel that their parents are nagging them too much about doing homework, cleaning their room, walking the dog, and so on, they run toward the only place they can be alone and away from the nagging — their private fort. After all, just like adults, kids too need a break.
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“I feel like you’re in a safe place, your own bubble of coziness… There are no other things affecting you — you’re locked out from the world… Everything is wrong right now, but it’s a safe space where no one worries about you… If you locked yourself in your room, people would worry, but if you hide in your fort all day, no worries,” an 11-year-old kid said to The Washington Post.
Dr. Michael Mintz, a clinical psychologist for Children’s National Health System, points out that some children are naturally attracted to confined spaces since it provides them with a sense of security that may not be available in the big, open world. As a consequence, these children get interested in building forts that provide them with the feeling of confinement that they crave.
Another big benefit of building forts is that it can develop a child’s teamwork. Children mostly create tents while working together with their siblings, parents, or friends. This interaction exposes them to the fundamentals of cooperation and teaches them what working together to achieve a goal means. Some children also find that they are better able to regulate their emotions while inside the fort. The dark, enclosed space cuts off unnecessary noise and other sensations, which can be pretty soothing for kids who have autism.
The COVID-19 lockdown has made some children tense. Lacking the certainty of school, friends, and so on, kids are finding it difficult to cope with having to remain restrained at home all day long. Building forts allow children to relieve some of these anxieties. Even though they are unable to control external circumstances, forts provide an assurance for the kids that they can at least be in control of this little space they have created. Some child experts believe that building forts can act as a self-therapy for kids during lockdown.
Tips for indoor fort building
If your kid is interested in creating a fort, you can help them to make the fort even better. For one, ask them to construct a fort near a window. This will ensure that the fort gets a lot of natural light. To make building forts even more fun, you can set up cardboard boxes into a tunnel so that children will have to crawl through a passage to get inside. This can also assure them that no one but they alone will enter the fort.
Make sure the fort is equipped with all the necessary stuff, like flashlights, books, games, and so on. Double-check the entire structure to identify dangerous items, like pins or nails sticking out from a cardboard box, blades accidentally left on some books, and so on. Only when you are absolutely sure that the fort is completely safe should you allow your kids to enter the structure.