Plenty of Play

Welcome and a very happy new year to you all. :)

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas and New Year celebrations. I’m grateful for the time I had spent with my family on Christmas Day and being able to see the new year in with 5 special people.

We’re all guilty of it aren’t we? Saying “Wow, I can’t believe it’s 2019 already!” Is it just me, or does time actually appear to pass faster the older we get?

I’ve been thinking over this festive season about what’s really important to me. I suppose my list is much like everyone else’s (?) Time with family, good health, a holiday or two and helping as many people as I can reach this year.

Before I launch into chatting about Resilience Building Block # 4 - Plenty of Play (Taken from Maggie Dent’s Real Kids In an Unreal World), I just want to remind you amazing parents out there that if you or your child has a problem, call me and let’s talk about how I can help you. Sometimes it takes a break from our regular routine (like holidays) for an issue to come to light. Sandplay Therapy is very different to traditional “talking” therapies and gets right to the issue quickly. It gives children an opportunity to work things out for themselves and build on their life skills.

Call me on 0412 599 470 or fill in my contact form on my website.

Now, I’d like to chat about Resilience Building Block # 4 - Plenty of Play….

Recently, there was a “screen time guidance report” released by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the U.K. Apparently it found “no clear evidence supporting widely repeated claims that time in front of a screen is toxic to well being.”

I have to admit that my first reaction was to laugh and say “What a load of rubbish".”

A few days later, I realised that I didn’t have access to the actual study, only what the media reported. I went to the RCPH website to get it “straight from the horses mouth” as it were.

What they go on to report is; “screen time limits should be negotiated based on the needs of the individual child. “ AND “The use of screens shouldn’t displace physical and social activities, family time and sleep.” AND “Screen time should be avoided for an hour before the planned bedtime.” It all sounds a bit different when you get the whole story….

The RCPCH also poses 4 questions for families to use as a guide to examine their screen time:

  1. Is screen time in your household controlled?

  2. Does screen use interfere with what your family want to do?

  3. Does screen use interfere with sleep?

  4. Are you able to control snacking during screen time?

Four really relevant points to consider. I find question number 4 interesting as my research has uncovered a growing realisation that constant and/ or unhealthy snacking during screen time is linked to childhood obesity.

We are all aware now that screens are here to stay and play a large part in our lives. Even so, let’s not deprive our future generations of the joy, adventure and freedom of unstructured play (preferably outdoors).

I believe outdoor play is vitally important to children’s overall development. I’ve been hearing a bit about Forest Kindergartens where children are taken into forest environments rain or shine, and let loose to explore, with the adult supervision assisting rather than guiding their play. The developmental benefits of allowing children to play freely in natural environments are numerous. This sounds just wonderful! Apparently they’ve been around in Northern Europe since the 1950’s. I know that they exist in Germany, Denmark, Seattle and Brooklyn in the U.S., London, Japan and Scotland. There are “Bush Kinders” here in Victoria.

According to an article on the Educational Playcare website - “Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development – it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways. This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills.”

I would venture to say that most of you out there are around the same ages as my children, so you would have to remember forts/ cubbies made from sheets and blankets over furniture. My children were lucky enough to have a pine forest directly behind the caravan park we had a van in. They would spend hours building ‘villages’ out of fallen branches, playing hide and seek and ‘forest wars’. These I know are among their best childhood memories as they still speak of them. My kids have also mentioned that they soon learned about what was safe and what was dangerous. Great skills to learn!

How about jumping on the trampoline for what seemed like hours, building sand/ mud castles, burying each other in sand on the beach, “painting” fences and footpaths with paint brushed dipped in buckets of water.

All of these things weren’t just fun for the kids participating, but for the adults observing or even joining in also. Who doesn’t enjoy revisiting fun childhood memories?

As well as being heaps of fun, these imaginative and unstructured games help to build physical and psychological wellbeing and shape one’s personality and character. Maggie Dent states “vigorous play helps diffuse excess energy and emotions and stimulates ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the body.”

Games will teach children how to wait their turn, to concentrate, to lose and to finish things.

All of these help to build resilience. A resilient person can handle disappointment such as losing a game or missing out on a job. Sure it doesn’t feel good, but if you’re resilient, you’ll bounce back and keep moving in a forward direction.

In conclusion; lots of play, lots of fun and laughter are absolutely necessary for overall wellbeing, being a loving and caring human capable of creating intimate relationships later in life and to heal and nurture mind, body, heart and soul.

To quote Friedrich Froebel from The Education of Man 1885:

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in the child’s soul.”

That quote sums up why I just love Sandplay Therapy. It gives children and adults the opportunity to express their innermost emotions in the sand.

My next Blog in this series will be about building life skills. Join me! Until then…….. :)

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I love helping families feel happier! If you would like to chat about how I can help you, and you live in Melbourne, follow this link to my “Contact Me” page.

This piece is written with the intention of helping parents create happier and more resilient children and is subject to copyright. Please contact the author if you wish to publish elsewhere.