The Power of Play – Part One

March 31, 2022

Ask yourself, when was the last time you really put down the phone, ignored the dirty dishes and got down with some playtime?

We are BIG on play here at The Wise Family! So much that we’ve dedicated another blog around that theme. If you haven’t seen our #PlayDayEveryday posts on Fridays, check them out!

Play is a child’s natural language through which thoughts and feelings are expressed. Unstructured play can also give insight into a child’s strengths, coping strategies and preparedness for future challenges. It also enhances important social skills in children such as empathy through the use of role playing. Social conscience also develops through play and can strengthen a child’s moral development. Furthermore, play is an important coping skill that can counter fears allowing children to relax, replay and de-sensitize.

We could go on and on! Check out part one of two in this series from our fabulously WISE team of clinicians that reinforces the power of play for children… and also for adults!

Unleash the child within! Go make those mud pies, dance to Encanto, and make a killer fort!

By Whitney Taylor, Resident in CounselingThe Power of Play

We have all benefited from the power of play. We have all been children. And somewhere along our way to adulthood, toparenthood, we lose touch with this inner part of ourselves; our inner child. As a human, I believe that one of the most beautiful gifts parenthood offers is being able to live through another childhood; the one you get to create for someone else. As a child therapist, I believe that one of the greatest gifts you can offer your young child is unconditional connection. And I believe in the power of doing this through play. While getting down on the ground to play with your child is powerful for many reasons, I want to emphasize the opportunity it has to communicate, “I am ready, able and willing to meet you where you are at.”

I acknowledge that child play time can also seem daunting, especially if you’ve been out of touch with your own inner child play. This is okay! I have worked with many parents who begin to think they are ‘bad’ or something is wrong for not wanting to learn how to build a spaceship out of Legos or bake magic mud pies in an imaginary outdoor kitchen. This is not true!

Here are a few tips if you struggle to find the motivation or desire to get down with your child’s need for play:

  • As always, quality over quantity. Think about the opportunity being placed in front of you – you get to bond with your child! If you are present (smartphone away!) you can accomplish just as much meaningful and lasting connection in 15 minutes as you can in one hour).
  • Engage in child led, unstructured play. Allow your kiddo to take the lead here. Go along with whatever they are doing and ask to join in. This can also allow you to learn about what they are interested in at the time.
  • Get on your child’s level. If they are sitting on the floor, join them! In other interactions throughout the day you are taller than them and sitting up higher than them. Play time is a time where they can see you in a new light.
  • Consistency is key. You might consider having a specific time each week where your child can count on play time with you. Be careful not to use this designated time as a reward or punishment.

Tiffaney Knight, Resident in Counseling 

Working in the school system as a school counselor, I have a front row seat to how important play is to a child’s development. Playing is usually their first social interaction with peers. Play teaches little humans the tools to be successful adults in the future. They learn valuable skills such as communication with others taking turns, compromising, and the list can go on.

Play is a great way to enter into your child’s world. I encourage parents to take some time and play with your child. Those are the memories your child will cherish forever. A parent taking the time to understand a game their child is playing or using their imagination to “cook” in their kitchen are the small gestures that brighten a child’s day and open the lines of communication with their parents.

The Power of Play can open so many doors and melt away a child’s worry, anger, and stress. 

Until Next Time, Be Wise!