The Decline of Play and the Rise of Psychopathology in Children and Adolescents

       Over the past half century, in the United States and other developed nations, children’s free play with other children has declined sharply. Over the same period, anxiety, depression, suicide, feelings of helplessness, and narcissism have increased sharply in children, adolescents, and young adults.

7 Myths That Discourage Independent Play

       The value of child-directed play is universally recognized and one of the few aspects of child-rearing that experts and thought leaders agree on. Independent play makes for highly productive, happily occupied kids, which in turn makes for happier, calmer parents. 

The Varieties of Play Match Requirements of Human Existence

      From an evolutionary perspective, the main purpose of play is education. Play is nature's way of ensuring that young mammals will practice the skills they need for survival. You can predict what a young mammal will play at by knowing what it must learn. 

How Can We Restore Children's Independent Outdoor Play?

   Children are designed, by nature, to play with other children independently of adults. Generally, the best place for them to play is outdoors, partly for the fresh air, vigorous exercise, the multitude of play opportunities, and exposure to nature that the outdoors provides; but also because, traditionally, that is the best place for children to get out from under the thumbs of adults.

How to Ruin Children's Play:

Supervise, Praise, Intervene

     My soul has been stirred by many of nature's wonders—by orange and yellow leaves sparkling in the autumn sun, by mallards landing softly on still waters at dusk, by clouds drifting by as I lay on my back gazing upward. But, of all of nature's scenes that I have enjoyed and pondered, none have enthralled me more than those of children playing—playing on their own, without adults guiding or interrupting them. Intervening in children's play seems to me to be like shooting those mallards that are landing on the water.

Stewardship of Play

     Early childhood educators offer and minister opportunities for children’s play. If they are sensitive to the sources of energy, play does more than appear: it flourishes. To do that well, as a team, we care for it. We understand what we are doing because we co-constructed it together. Here is a way to discover play—the most fundamental idea of all.

The Value of Play II :

How Play Promotes Reasoning 

     Twenty years ago, a pair of researchers in England reported on a series of experiments in which they showed that very young children could, in the context of play, solve logic problems that they seemed unable to solve in a serious context.

Restoring Children's Play:

Overcoming Parental Fears

  Children are designed, by nature, to spend hours per day playing with other children, independently of adults.  In such play they practice all sorts of physical and mental skills; discover and pursue their passions; and learn how to create their own activities, solve their own problems, get along with peers, and control their emotions and impulses. Depriving children of independent play inflicts serious harm on them. 

The Play Deficit

Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood mental disorders have been increasing. It’s not just that we’re seeing disorders that we overlooked before. Clinical questionnaires aimed at assessing anxiety and depression, for example, have been given in unchanged form to normative groups of schoolchildren in the US ever since the 1950s

Play Makes Us Human IV:

When Work Is Play

One of the first and most often reinforced lessons that children learn in school is that work and play are opposites. Work is what one has to do; play is what one wants to do. Work is burdensome; play is fun. Work is essential; play is trivial. But when we leave school and go on to the "real world," at least some of us, the lucky ones, discover that work is not the opposite of play. In fact, work can be play, or at least it can be imbued with a high degree of playfulness.When work is play, it is humanizing. It brings out our best qualities and makes us feel good. 

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