The Power of Play

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. - George Bernard Shaw

When you look back at childhood, how much of those memories involve play? Today many of us find ourselves trying to enjoy play vicariously through our favorite athlete on television but clearly the benefits of actually playing far outweigh watching someone else do it.

Here are a few benefits of bringing play back into your life as an adult.

5 reasons play is good for us:

Play helps relieve stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Play improves brain function. can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function and can also help ward off stress and depression.

Play stimulates the mind and boosts creativity.  You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun . Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.

Play improves relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. 

Play keeps you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best.

But if you really want to experience even more benefits, find a child to play with. In a world where more and more kids are being raised with minimal affection and interaction, we owe it to our future, their future to remind them of the joy of play. Here are a few ways to do that.

How to play with your child

Few realize how much benefits comes from playing alone. But playing with grownups, parents, uncles and aunts can be extremely beneficial. Here are a few ideas to bring play back:

Establish regular play times. It may be for twenty minutes before dinner every night or every Sunday morning, for example. 

Give your child your undivided attention. Turn off the TV and your cell phone and make time to play with your child without distraction. Having your undivided attention makes your child feel special.

Get down to your child’s level. That may mean getting down on your knees or sitting on the floor. Match your child’s intensity during play—if your child is loud and energetic, be loud and energetic, too.

Embrace repetition. It may be boring to you, but it’s not to your child. Children learn through repetition. Let your child play the same game over and over. Your child will move on when he or she is ready.

Let your children take the lead. Become part of their game rather than trying to dictate the play. In pretend play, let your child call the shots, make the rules, and determine the pace of play. Ask questions and follow along—you’ll likely get drawn into imaginative new worlds that are fun for you, too.

Don’t force play or try to prolong a game. The best way to teach a new skill is to show children how something works, then step back and give them a chance to try it. When your child grows tired of an activity, it’s time to move on to something new.

Make play age-appropriate and consider safety. If a game is too hard or too easy, it loses its sense of pleasure and fun. Help your child find age-appropriate activities and understand any safety rules for play. Nothing ruins a fun game faster than a child getting hurt.

by Andrew Allen

pc Robert Collins


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