Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Decline of Play and Mental Health Disorders

We all know deep within our very being.

 Children need to play. Play supports life. Play is crucial to healthy development. Play is the foundation for learning. Play is the wellspring of life.

Those of us who are old enough to have experienced play in childhood, as described by the speaker below, have a living picture, a living experience of what it means to play, to take risks, to resolve problems, to be free and to feel competent.

Yet we, as a culture, have reached a critical point in that the generation of new parents of today most likely did not experience play in childhood, at least not with the freedom and not to the extent described in this talk.

This need for play is universal. All children need play and without it, they suffer.

My reader, I encourage you to give up 16 minutes in your day to watch this TED X talk by researcher and professor Peter Gray who explores what it means when children do not grow up with the freedom to play.


Oh, I thank you Mr. Peter Gray for so eloquently naming the problem and suggesting solutions.

I'll add to his suggestions that we seek out neighbors, parents, grandparents, older people in our communities and ask them about their memories of childhood...
  • How did they play? 
  • Where did they play? 
  • What risks were they able to take? 
  • How did it shape who they are?
  • What can each of us do to support play for all children?
Carrie Dendtler, over at the Parenting Passageway speaks to the need for time out of doors in childhood with the movement towards  Forest, Farm and Field programs here. Can you imagine what it might look like if all the social, political, and financial energy put into pre-k programs in this country were turned towards supporting free, child initiated play as the most important element of a healthy childhood?

1 comment:

  1. Amen, Lisa! Thank you for sharing this talk. I especially appreciated his point about the fear mongering in the media, which has created a real concern among parents about whether or not it is safe for children to play outside or out of parents' eyesight. Kids need free play. Child directed. They need to climb trees, make up their own games, experience solitude. Sports and dance classes are not the same...

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