The Importance of Play — At Any Age
Play. Often when we hear the word, an image of children playing comes to mind. It is widely accepted that play is essential to a child’s development: developing social skills, building confidence, gaining cultural and environmental understanding, and developing cognition and language are just some of the benefits that come with play. But what about once that child is a grown adult?
Our society has a tendency to reject play for adults: adulthood is about being serious, play is unproductive, and work and responsibilities take up any free time one may have. But play is just as important for adults as it is for children.
Play promotes optimism. It engages an inner joy that we tend to suppress as we go about our busy lives. It fulfills that lighter, positive part of our selves that we overlook as we focus on the demands and responsibilities and tasks we complete every day. Play benefits our mental health, and it can strengthen relationships that may seem stagnant.
We encourage you to take a moment and think about how you engage in play. What does play mean to you? It can be hard to define, as it is different for everyone at different stages in their lives. Play is music, art, imagination, and storytelling, even flirting. Can you find ways that you play every day?
Dr. Stuart Brown has studied play and its importance for years. He asks readers to reconnect with play by taking note of their play memories, and invites them to think of ways to recreate those memories. He encourages his readers to surround themselves with playful people of all ages. Playing with children and playing with loved ones can spark a playful energy that may be dormant within you. By playing with others, you create new memories.
For more information on Dr. Brown, watch his TED Talk on Play.
By Katie McCarthy
Boston Post Adoption Resources