The Power of Play – Part Two

April 4, 2022

As I write this, I am listening to my grandson play with his close friend from preschool. They are pretending to be monsters and making high-pitched squealing noises. I smile to myself as their imaginations channel them to another world. It makes me yearn to jump out of my chair and join in!

We cannot say this enough. Play time is essential to child development! Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Communication, social cues and self expression are just a few of the benefits children learn from play.

In part two of our Power of Play series, we learn how we can take advantage of playtime opportunities – even as adults! 

By Grace Lozano, Resident in Counseling

Play is an incredibly powerful form of therapy that we use frequently here at The Wise Family. There are vast benefits of play for individuals of all ages and backgrounds, and specifically for those who are working through past traumas.

Here are just a few reasons why play can and does help:

  • Play has the ability to turn things that have previously felt “unmanageable” into more “manageable” concepts that feel safer to work with. As Mister Rogers once said, “Play allows us a safe distance as we work on what’s close to our hearts.” Play can increase feelings of safety as we sort through past events that may not yet feel safe to talk about. This is especially important to consider when working with children, whose primary language is play.
  • Play involves connection with others, and positive relationships are healing to our brains. Sometimes the content of play isn’t half as important as the safe relationship that’s being fostered and registered in the brain during that interaction.
  • Play engages sensory, motor, emotional, and cognitive areas of the brain in controllable and predictable ways, which can be healing to stress responses that have formed in the brain as a result of trauma. As recent neuroscience research has shown, our brains are built to be resilient. Through increasing engagement in “safe” interactions such as play, our brains register this new data, and we can begin to heal.

Whether in the therapy office, on the playground, or inside the home, let’s continue to foster opportunities to play for everyone in our lives! The world may be a better place because of it.

By Kasey Cain, Licensed Professional Counselor

Sharing about the Power of Play is not new for The Wise Family. Last June we wrote about the many benefits of play for children and adults. We revisit the topic this month because play is truly important enough to warrant continued conversation. I am, and always have been, a champion of the need for children to play. Working in the school system, I shudder when recess is shortened or I hear conversation around the need for more focus on academics.

It is hard for me to understand how people still don’t get that play IS academic in nature. Play is all things! It supports all areas of a child’s development building physical skills, cognitive skills, social skills, and emotional regulation skills. Through different types of play we enhance creativity and imagination, practice problem solving and cooperation, take risks and build confidence, learn from mistakes, practice controlling our emotions, and so much more. Often, when we think of play, our minds think about babies through elementary age children. Yes, play is absolutely important to children for all of the reasons listed above. However, don’t overlook the importance of play for adolescents and adults.

Play can decrease stress, fatigue, and depression. At all ages, play enhances our lives and can bring joy and laughter. So, as we like to say at The Wise Family, I encourage you to Play Everyday!

Now, go out and PLAY! Until next time, Be Wise1