Why Lego Isn’t Just for Little Kids: The Mental Health Benefits of Playing and Building with Lego
Imagine your parents or grandparents buying sets of Lego bricks to make their own buildings and streets. You might wonder if they have forgotten their age and returned to childhood. In the past, Lego was a toy mainly for young children. These days, however, adults are discovering that playing and building with Lego can have many mental health benefits. Soon, teens and adults might be the main users of this toy.
Lego has a long history. In 1932, a man from Denmark named Ole Kirk Kristiansen began making brightly-coloured bricks which lock together. He got the name “Lego” from two Danish words that mean “play well.” The bricks soon became popular with children around the world. Putting the bricks together helped them develop the skills and muscles that they would later need for writing. It taught them colours, sizes, and much more.
For many years, Lego was a standard childhood toy. However, video games and other online activities started to take children away from playing with bricks. The Lego manufacturers started adding options that might appeal to older people, such as themes relating to popular television programs.
The Lego company struggled financially during the 1990s, but it is doing better now because of adults. Besides the television- or movie-based themes, Lego bricks offer something that many adults can appreciate. One of the benefits of Lego is developing better motor skills. Putting the bricks together requires people to coordinate what they see with what their hands do. The pieces are often quite small, and being able to put them together requires steady hands and an ability to handle pieces of different sizes. Although these kinds of skills usually develop in childhood, adults can also benefit from extra practice.
Repeating the same motion over and over can benefit the mind, as well. People need to think about what they are doing, but not enough that they are distracted from other tasks. The repetition can even focus the mind so that people can think about something else, even while they are choosing the next brick to use. It can also be a good relaxation tool for busy people who want something to take their minds off their daily work.
Even as they relax, adults can learn new skills from working with Lego. Building complicated structures requires problem-solving abilities. People need to plan and to be able to choose the right size of bricks for what they want to build. It is important to know how to create a strong base for the structure and to understand how the different parts fit together best. These types of skills are very useful for jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Although the problem-solving aspects of working with Lego tend to be most useful in the STEM fields, the process also involves creativity that can be useful in the Arts. Building a structure involves imagining what it might look like and then working through the steps to finish the project. Often, this involves imagining how the structure might look when it is finished, a process that depends on creativity.
With all of these benefits, building with Lego is no longer just for children. These days, adults are realizing what they can achieve through this activity, and Lego is becoming a toy for any age.
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