Making Time For Play at Every Age

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Kids of all ages need and have a right to play – as do all other living creatures… including adults!  With play hours being sucked from a child’s day at drastic rates, it is even more important that adults ensure that children and the whole family MAKE TIME FOR PLAY.  We are raising a generation of anxious, overweight, unsocial children and play is the antidote for all of these problems.

Here are some tips to keep play alive and kickin’ at any age:

0-1: Play is critical for this explosive period of brain development.  It is imperative for forming core attachments, which sets the anchor for healthy relationships. Provide lots of sensory stimulation with a variety of textures, smells, and sounds.  Belly time on the floor with interesting objects will do the trick.  And provide lots of face-to-face time with your baby. Remember that you are your baby’s mirror to the world. This is an easy one because it’s so much fun to play patty cake and peekaboo and just to giggle with your baby!

1-2: Play is all about moving at this age.  So give your little one lots of opportunity to move in big spaces that provide a good variety of challenges – inclines, slides and things to climb over, under, around and through are fun and build needed coordination. Taking walks and visits to the park broaden your child’s world as they start discovering.  Balls, blocks, non-battery operated toys build stronger brain pathways and are fun to do along with your child. Don’t forget to dance with your child – it’s a blast!

2-5: Play is all about pretend at this age.  Children start developing creativity and imagination. It is the time when they use objects in their play to represent other things – like a block may be used as a telephone.  This is important because it is the development of abstract / representational thinking which is the core of both reading and math.  The letter A represents a sound and 10 represents ten units of something.  So give your children lots of opportunities AND TIME for pretend play.

5-10: Play is all about challenges and competition at this age.  Pretend play is still going strong although it looks a bit different than dress-up.  It looks more like Legos and fashion dolls, but it is pretend play – just listen to it and you’ll hear.  This is also the time when children get very scheduled so CARVE time out for play.  And use the sports they are involved to make time to practice with them, but make it PLAY not drills – they have coaches for that.  A family game of street kickball is fun for little soccer players.  And dance with your kids – it’s fun and funny for all!!

Tweens: For tweens, most everything is boring or embarrassing so challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone and think outside the box for play opportunities.  No tween can resist the fun and humor of playing a slippery game of mud soccer in the backyard on a rainy day with their parent (if we ever get any rain here in So Cal).  Or have a rousing family hula hoop competition.  Engage your tween in family play and don’t forget board games and charades!

Teens: Meet your teen where they are.  Get involved in what they are interested in and let them be the teacher.  Whether it’s music, sports or word games, let them show you how it’s done.  A basketball hoop in the driveway is a must for this age (girl or boy).  It is a place to burn off frustration and energy and spur on fun competition. The most important part about play with teenagers is to give them time to play, one on one with you. You will find out more about them and they will get to know you – imperative at this age for both of you!

Young Adults: Play is very social at this age.  It is often about play like party games or competitive play like softball leagues.  It is the way that young adults unwind and connect with one another.  It is critical for a balanced life

Adults: Play for adults often centers around family play and one on one play with children.  But adults also need time to play as an individual and pursue leisure activities that interest them.  Tennis, bicycling, walking, running, golfing, bowling are all great play outlets.  It is so important to carve time out to play in order to stay fit and have a healthy lifestyle that keeps both mind and body in balance.

Seniors: Although senior years may be a less active time for some people it is critical that seniors play!  Those that can still participate in active play should do so at a pace that works.  Those that are not able to be as active have lots of great options.  Play is important in senior years for the social aspects as well as the physical movement.  Charades, Pictionary, Angry Birds, card games and chess are all great for less mobile seniors.  Of course playing with grandchildren is always a favorite. Fun, humor, engagement – these should be the central aspects of play at any age.  And don’t forget to dance with your senior!

PLAY equals:

  • Health
  • Happiness
  • Learning
  • Relationships
  • Fun

And don’t forget to dance.

Linda's-Bio

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