The Healthy Mind Platter - Play Time

by DevorahTockar 01 Apr 2021

Article 4 of 8 Theme Focussing on the Healthy Mind Platter created by Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr David Rock

Disclaimer: The original framework of Healthy Mind Platter can be found at https://drdansiegel.com/healthy-mind-platter/ The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the intended views of the creators of the Health Mind Platter; Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr David Rock.

 It's Play Time!

The creators of the Healthy Mind Platter call this “the joy of experimenting with life”. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics “free and unstructured play is…essential for helping children reach important social, emotional and cognitive developmental milestones…and helps them manage stress and become resilient”.

The key to play is that it is self-guided.

As parents you can prompt play by taking your children outdoors or leaving out their dress up box to encourage imaginary play. One of my happiest parenting moments is when I hear one of my children singing while playing- it shows me that they are in their ‘flow’ and it isn’t something I can force or even encourage. It just happens. Your kids can play alone, or you can ask to join their game. When you play with your child you enter their world. Take off your competitive hat- let your kids beat you in a game, have a rumble with them, ask if you can join them in their cubby house or tea party and utilise this time to connect. Let the sound of laughter fill your home.

Stuart Brown, Founder of the National Institute for Play   says that “Playfulness enhances the capacity to innovate, adapt, and master changing circumstances.  It is not just an escape. It can help us integrate and reconcile difficult or contradictory circumstances. And, often, it can show us  a way out of our problems.”

Brown says that play offers a sense of engagement and pleasure, takes us out of our sense of time and place, and the experience is more important than the outcome.

 

Know your starting point.

Maybe you are an expert at this and ensure you play each day. If so, please leave your tips in the comment section below for the rest of us. If you find that days go by without play, ask yourself- when did I stop playing and why? Do you remember how you used to play as a child? Alone, or with friends? Maybe you can try it again. Adults need play time too. Click here for some ideas

Can we bring play back into our every day? Try virtual reality escape rooms or take up a dance class, play some soccer or tennis with mates, watch stand-up comedy or read jokes out loud, try adventure sports or going camping with friends. I appreciate that adding lengthy activities to each day may be unrealistic, so take small steps. 

Ask your kids for some tips and join them in a game. Have a chat with your partner about how you can find at least a few minutes every day to incorporate play in your day.

If it doesn’t come naturally then you will have to intentionally and purposely carve out time for play. It takes time and effort but is essential for optimal mind health, and once you have found integration- it’s all fun!

Play Time Challenge

Pick one and let us know how you go 

  • When you sit down and introduce this theme to your kids (be prepared- this may be their favourite activity) reminisce with your child about ways that you used to play as a child.

  • Write a list of playful activities that you enjoy.

  • Together with your child/ren write a list of playful activities that they enjoy.

  • Discuss where you will carve out time for the above activities- and do them!

  • Next time you are at the park with your kids have a swing on the swing, or join them in a running race.

That’s all from me today. Give the challenges a go. They may not be easy at first, but are well worth it as you will see for yourselves. Know that we are in this together and get in touch to take the conversation further.

Chat again soon,

Devorah T

Disclaimer: The original framework of Healthy Mind Platter can be found at https://drdansiegel.com/healthy-mind-platter/ The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the intended views of the creators of the Health Mind Platter; Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr David Rock.

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