Let their spirit be free!
We have all been there! That wait for the school bell to indicate the start of the games’ hour, completing the homework quickly so that we could rush out to play with friends in the evening, and asking our parents for ‘5 more minutes’ and that would never be it! But wasn’t it all so worth it?
Playtime is more than just games, it’s an experience. But are we as parents and caregivers letting our children enjoy this experience the same way?
With value being placed on test scores and not personal development, demand for academic readiness and success is taking away the joy of ‘free play’. We are letting ourselves continuously direct our children’s activities because we find that optimal, but what about the precious years of development we might be going negligent about, that are in reality critical?
A variety of studies conducted using various different methodologies come to the same bold conclusion of a strong connection between play and creative problem solving, deeper and stronger social skills, and enhanced cooperation and logical thinking. Not only this, healthy playtime helps our little ones discover a sense of self and a feeling of control over little things that matter to them. Numerous health benefits are not unknown.
Studies support that preschoolers’ and schoolers’ screen-time with smart devices has increased tremendously over the years. Do we need more reason for increased cases of anxiety and depression, both reported and (more than often) unreported, among young adults?
Having said that, we want to address the fact that screen-time would be a new normal for various online learning activities as a by-product of developments going forth because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will get accustomed to the shift in the mindset and the ease of learning changes by the time a strong medical armor is in place, which would be by the year 2021 or beyond.
We request you to not confuse playtime with guided play with coaches or that under your watch. We are concerned about free play!
Our congested urban cityscape has indeed taken away from the freedom of playing around. With the decline of open natural spaces like parks, we see a simultaneous rise in children’s amusement centers. Developments and transitions like these are beyond our control on an individual level. But there are somethings we need to acknowledge and keep the advantages of free play for our little ones intact!
Playtime needs to be free: Let your children choose their play activities on their own. This not only makes them feel that they can take control but also helps them (and also gives you the opportunity) to learn about their interests.
Let them be challenged and challenge themselves: Playtime can sometimes turn out to be challenging, physically due to frightening swings or at times minor injuries and socially due to a conflict with friends or finding it difficult to adjust. Your protective instincts as parents are justified, but it’s okay. Give them some time to learn to cope up with these emotions of fright, cooperation, and more. Encourage them to adjust and adapt. Allow them to self-soothe. They are learning!
All about happiness: Our children’s well-being and happiness, isn’t that what we are rooting for?
Let them be happy at this moment, let them find what makes them happy. Don’t let academics turn into a sphere related to pressure, there’s already a lot waiting for them! Yes, indeed, academics take a space on one’s resume at certain academic levels/academic transitional levels, but you know what takes more space and value? Skills, inter-personal skills! And if we let them play outdoors or simply play freely for an hour or two a day, we won’t have to ‘teach’ them these skills, they will ‘learn on their own’!
You know it!: Being a parent you know what’s best for your child and comparing to your childhood playtime and way, you will know if there’s something your child is missing on. Your protective instincts and concerns are valid with predators and bullies around and the academic notions in play. But you know it’s not helpful to let these take away from a child’s freedom. Let them dive in. If they fall, you will be right there, but let them stand up again on their own. They’ll be just fine!
If they have a fight, allow them to express the whole incident and resolve it on their own. Many times when they are narrating their entire experience, we may feel the urge to explain them or stop them but let them share all, how they are feeling, name their emotions… just listen patiently. We as parents feel hurt too when our children feel bad, and I have been there, but we got to keep up with our positive sport and remind ourselves of the quote from Abraham-Hicks teachings*. It takes time initially as they’ve had always been under our care most of the time in their beginning years, after birth. But as they grow up their access to the wider world would grow too. So, let’s start early with their free playtime and help them thoughtfully navigate the wider world.
I am closing this blog with a gentle reminder!
Free playtime is not an optional extra, it’s essential, and you know it! So we got to strike a balance between the screen-time, guided playtime and free playtime.
Don’t we at our current stage of life wish for something we could do for the sheer joy of it and not have something at stake and the fear to lose?
When our children play, it is not centered on winning a prize or any other aim, they play simply for the happiness they feel within! Can we ask for more?
*I leave you with the quote from Abraham-Hicks teachings:
‘Your child is naturally joyful. Your child is naturally tuned in to the Source Energy. And as he is diving through and digging through contrast, it is natural that there would be somethings that might disconnect him. Just don’t let his disconnection then inflame your disconnection.
Many parents have discovered that their children, for most part, feel good when they do – and the ornerier you are, usually the ornerier your children are.
They are a strong reflection of the way you are feeling much of the time.’
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Happy, free and conscious parenting!