I was looking out of my window one afternoon during the school run. As I observed parents taking their little ones from school, I saw two fathers on separate occasions running with their daughters. Their faces lit up with glee, indicating they were enjoying the experience of play. Play is such an important part of a child’s life and is in fact the language that they understand and communicate with the world. As parents we often forget the joy and healing that this activity can bring for ourselves and our children.
I train counsellors about the importance of play in the life of a child and as I watched these children playing with their fathers, I was inspired to remind parents about this important part of childhood development. So why is play so important for you and your child?
Playing is a how children naturally express themselves and interacts with their peers and the adults in their lives. Playing gives way for the release of pent up tension and anxiety that may be present. As parents we go on holiday when we feel stressed; so just think what it could be like if you and your child engaged in more play; an activity that will release your stress at a fraction of the cost.
Stress, tension and anxiety are major contributors of fractured relationships between children and their parents. . These fractured relationships then spill over into the wider community at school and at work. The family is always about interpersonal relationships and often when children have been referred for counselling, it is invariably about the interpersonal relationships, whether it is parent/child or child/siblings. The benefit of playing together could foster more wholesome and meaningful relationships.
Through play, children tell their stories… as a parent take time to really listen to the message in the story. This narrative could carry important messages for you. Through their play you could learn to better understand their internal world and offer an empathic response. Through play you can build a great relationship, important for a secure base as well as a healthy parent/child attachment resulting in them feeling a sense of security and safety; so reduce your focus on the problems… in some cases the problems that you are concerned about will be resolved using this indirect approach.
Sometimes as parents we forget how to play, or as a child you may have been denied this important stage of your development due to some adverse family issues or other factors. Learning how to play with your child from an early stage is a very effective way to reduce future problems in family life and even arrest the cycle of what may be unhealthy relationship pattern passing down to the next generation. Garry Landreth, a child therapist endorses this concerning how important this activity is for children and parents; he believes that parents can become skilled to be therapeutic agents in the lives of their children. Filial Play is just the way to get started; why not contact us to find out how you can enhance your family life through play.
Angela Sterling-Noel (MBACP, PG Cert.)