Dear Mind You friend. If you are a teenager, play! If you are an adult, play! If you are parent, play and play with your kids. If you are a grandparent, play! If you are a teacher, play!
One of the greatest joys I remember from my childhood is free playtime! Carefree, no responsibility, endless time for imaginative play, board games or outdoor ball games. I vividly remember playing dodgeball with all my kids from the neighborhood, marking the field lines with chalk on the cul-de-sac surface. I was allowed to play until sunset. Bliss! Time was irrelevant, as kids, my friends and I were lost in the moment. Sunset was a good marker, and when we went home for dinner, I remember to play-fight with my dad, or to play table-tennis. To this day we are fans of playing card games like Canasta, a game usually played best with 2-4 players. I also feel lucky to have memories of my Grandma playing Monopoly with me, I wonder if she let me win....Good times, good memories. I also remember being in my room by myself and simply play by myself, yes I am of the non digital-era.
I thoroughly feel that my childhood experience with games and play have shaped me in many ways, one is my playful approach of parenting and another is being open to different outcomes. How about you? Are you like me enthusiastic about play and game time? Can you sense the importance of this playtime?
In my coaching and therapy sessions I include play as an easy way to engage children, to break the ice but also to gain insights on their ability to focus and concentrate on the game itself. Often I encourage their parents to pick up a board game, and to allow time for free play.
In researching this topic, I came across this list of basic needs for children's healthy development.
Basics for a physically healthy child:
Adequate shelter and sleep
healthy living environment
Lets take a look at the basics for mentally healthy children:
Unconditional love from family
Self-confidence and high self-esteem
The opportunity to play with other children
Encouraging teachers and supportive caretakers
Safe and secure surroundings
Appropriate guidance and discipline
All very relevant points, for the purpose of this blog, let's closely look at PLAY:
Playtime helps children be creative, learn problem-solving skills and learn self-control. Good, hardy play, which includes running and yelling, is not only fun, but helps children to be physically and mentally healthy.
Magic word: Unstructured play
Let me stress the fact, of research showing that, `It is unstructured play, where partners have to negotiate the rules, that is most important for the beneficial effects on the prefrontal cortex.
Play is serious business. (...) Play is a banquet for the brain, a smorgasbord for the senses, providing nourishment for body and spirit: sad then that as a society we seem to be starving ourselves of it.
Furthermore it is highlighted in current media
how mental illnesses in teenagers are on the rise.
UK stats (Source) 10% of school children 5-16 years in the UK have diagnosable mental illness.
3 in 4 mental illnesses start in childhood
average wait for effective treatment is 10 years.
Germany stats (Source)
every 20th child has a treatment-worthy illness
every 5th child complains about psycho-somatic illnesses
Over the decades PLAYTIME has dramatically changed.
'By depriving children of opportunities to play on their own, away from direct adult supervision and control, we are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives. We may think we are protecting them, but in fact we are diminishing their joy, diminishing their sense of self-control, preventing them from discovering and exploring the endeavors they would most love, and increasing the odds that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and other disorders.'
- make playtime a priority
- Allow your child to play on their own
- Meet your child at their level and join in their game
Imagine it's Christmas, and you are letting yourself flow by setting new standards, rising to the occasion and creating the greatest memories for you and your family with a play marathon, playing traditional family games, new current ones or even be innovative and creating your own. How magical!
Tap into the good memories of your childhood, nurture your inner child
If you struggle to connect with yourself, if playtime sounds a good idea but you were told to be a grown up and all silliness is childish and therefore abandoned from your life, you might want to consider a new perspective.
Book a discovery call with me and we can explore how to rejoin you with your inner lightness, JOY and playfulness.
PS.: I need to go now and continue playing a puzzle....