In order for humans to be fully well, emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually, I think they need playfulness. Furthermore, I strongly believe, it is incumbent on parents and adults who work with children that they have a playful and light hearted spirit. Here’s my thoughts on why…
Many adults don’t play at all.
Sometimes these people are ‘workaholics’ and are called ‘driven’, ‘successful’ or ‘uptight’ depending on your point of view. I suspect that many politicians and senior managers fall into this category.
Sometimes these people have an exaggerated or inflated sense of their own dignity and importance and are snooty and scoff at playful adults.
Sometimes people are simple too tired and/or stressed to play and so spend any time outside ‘work’ looking at a screen, drinking and socializing, shopping or sleeping.
Some adults play sometimes.
Their play is categorized and labelled under ‘past-time’ or ‘hobby’ or ‘something I do when I am not working’. This play can be;
-competitive – golf, football, pub quizzes, online gaming
- require physical effort – running, weight lifting, walking
- creative and meditative – gardening, knitting, fishing
- be domestically useful – cooking, home improvement
- social – singing in a choir, book clubs, dancing.
And some adults are playful.
Playful adults may have hobbies, they may not. They may be professionally successful, they may not. Being playful is part of their everyday life and is not confined to a time or place. It is an attitude not an activity. It is an ability and desire to see the fun in situations, to be creative and to laugh.
Why is being playful so important when raising children?
Early Years practitioners, teachers and parents should know the need for playfulness – for themselves and for their children. Why?
- Because being playful ourselves is an indication that we are feeling emotionally well. If we never feel playful, we are probably under stress of some sort which will impact on our ability to care for ourselves and our children fully. We may be providing the physical needs for our children but be absent emotionally.
- Because being playful means we are comfortable with playing around with roles and responsibilities and allow children to take the lead in the play and learning. Children love to be in charge and pretend an adult is the baby or a passenger on their bus.
- Because being playful means we are in the moment and present with the child – not talking or thinking about what is happening next. Children appreciate and respond to adults who are genuinely engaged with them.
- Because being playful means we can be genuinely creative – not driven by the need to produce something wonderful but by the simple, internal pleasure of being and doing.
- Because we like to have playful adventures and meet challenges from time to time which in turn helps our children to be adventurous and brave.
- Because when being playful we can let down our dignity and show our children that other people’s opinions of us do not matter.
- Because being playful means we laugh together which builds strong emotional relationships and lasting memories.