Yes, even adults need to play!
No matter where a child is in the world, and what they are experiencing – war, sickness, pain or homelessness, boredom and isolation – they all need love and fun, nutrition, play, curiosity and wonder.
As a certified child life specialist, most of what I do that supports children’s coping and helps them be and feel successful during the course of their medical experience is delivered through different types of play. Here are the many different types of play typically offered by a child life specialist to children and youth:
How cool is that! The most important and most frequent type of play provided is JUST PLAY. Play offers fun, silliness, adventure and joy, as well as stress relief, and helps kids with processing what’s happening in their lives. Yep, it’s true.
Play is essential to children’s coping, especially during times of high stress such as serious illness or this pandemic. Driving 100 little cars around the floor for hours, and all that unicorn play, has great value and meaning for kids. Even when there are no toys to play with, children will find a way to play.
A homeless young boy I met in Cange, Haiti, approximately 3 years old. He’s made his own kite to play with using garbage from the dump where he lives.
So have fun! Find ways to make time for play WITH children, and find time to play on your own. Playing with the children in your life, whether they are your own kids, family members, or neighbors, can be enjoyed in person or even virtually now.
On your own, just taking time for a simple word game on your phone provides little bits of joy each day as you challenge yourself to solve a word problem. This type of play is spontaneous, and usually requires little planning and preparation. Just get ready to have some fun. There are so many ways to increase joy with carefree playfulness.
Joyful carefree play has huge value for children and adults alike.
About the Author
Morgan Livingstone is a Certified Child Life Specialist and Certified Infant Massage Instructor/Trainer. She is passionate about improved child life and psychosocial supports for children and families affected by retinoblastoma.
As the Child Life Officer of World Eye Cancer Hope, Morgan contributes to the website’s Child Life sections, and speaks globally about child life supports for children with retinoblastoma. Morgan provided enriched multi-day child life programming for children of all ages at both One Rb World in Washington, D.C. in October 2017 and the Canadian Retinoblastoma Research Advisory Board meeting in December 2017.
Morgan also writes and creates resources for children and adults, and participates in child life research studies. She won the inaugural Innovation Grant at Operation Smile for developing an APP that uses Virtual Reality to prepare children receiving cleft lip and palate surgery for their operation.
Download Morgan’s helpful parent manual for supporting children’s worries using Worry Eaters.