Remember when you were a child? How our endless imaginations took us to new worlds, on daring adventures and shaped the way we see ourselves? Turns out, that’s still true. Let’s explore the ways that now as adults we can share and spread our love of play with our children, our loved ones – even ourselves – and why we should.
We all need playtime, it allows us to express ourselves, explore our dreams and engage our imaginations. As adults, it’s a part of our relaxation routine: stress management through self care.
For children however, play is as close to a necessity as food, water, and shelter. Our children learn when they play – they dream, they problem-solve, they discover who they are.
The free movement of an open space paired with communication lets kids practice collaboration, creativity, courage. Whether they are acting out their favorite folk tale or recreating daily activities, play allows children to model behaviors they gather from us. We get to witness them decide what groceries and teas are “absolutely necessary” for hosting a stuffed-animal dinner or chuckle quietly as they let loose their wildest fantasies in a safe and controlled environment: from swashbuckling pirates fencing on turf and rescuing mermaids from fishing nets – to brave astronauts hopscotching across stones on a distant planet discovering alien life.
Playtime helps our young ones learn to be decisive, make choices – chase after goals of their own making. Just like story time before bed is a surefire way to get wide-eyed adoration, playtime teaches them to begin writing stories of their own. We all need play. It teaches us to be social, to self-regulate, to be flexible in our changing world. It is part of what makes us human.
So as caregivers, parents, homeowners with nieces and nephews and friends with kids that look around our houses with mischief and curiosity – what can we do to embrace this powerful activity? Our answer is simple, make space for it. From a dedicated playscape, to a swing set, to a game area, to an open patch of turf you can run around on – make room for playtime. It is simply too important to pass up.
References: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical report, The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, Pediatrics September 2018, 142 (3) e20182058; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-2058