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Take Time to Play with Your Children


Take Time to Play with Your Children

by Elen Stone
in Kids

Many people have emotional wounds about identity and also carry wounds around vitality and freedom of play. Not necessarily that persons got hurt during childhood play, but that they may, in their grownup time, have come to associate it with early refusal and rejection, loneliness, isolation, and the resultant fears of worthlessness, loss of belonging and love.


Playing with your Kids It’s very important for THEM and YOU

Sometimes as parents, we may create walls around play or feel negative when our kids wants us to: "Play with me, Mom!" / “Play with me, Dad!”

What is hidden, behind our reactions and feelings? Could it be that we might have a “fear of play”?

If we make few researches and think about this idea for a moment, we may learn something deeply emotional about our own unfulfilled desires and needs. We can define whether our reaction to play is coming from something painful by listening to how we react to play. This response is transferred in our words:

  • "Cool down or we're done."
  • "One more round and we'll have to stop."
  • "But we just played the same game six times..."
  • "We don't have time right now."
  • "Kido I'm too tired to play now."


Sometimes as parents, we may build walls around play....and in our bodies. How does our kid's demand for an extra round of trains upset our internal system? Do we begin feeling tight in our chest? Do we create a pit in our stomach anticipating his collapse when we finally believe it’s time to stop? Do we become emotionally confused? Or feel compelled to reach for our quiet escape, our phone - like sitting in the corridor seat near the exit door?


Some questions to consider:

  1. Can we define what it is that we feel we're trying to run away?
  2. What were our own play experiences of childhood like? How was our childhood spontaneity responded to by our parents and caregivers? Did we play alone? Was play a positive experience? Was play something we were asked to do when adults were preoccupied and busy or was it restricted, withheld as punishment?
  3. What do we associate with play in adulthood?


  1. Which of the following resonates with you when you feel "play anxiety" in the face of your child's requests or perceived demands for more play time (with you):
  2. a) Anxiety due to a feeling of disinterest and "boredom"
  3. b) Fear of not getting your own needs met
  4. c) Fear of your child's anger if you set a limit of time or style of play
  5. d) Fear of being consumed by your child's needs or of feeling weak?
Group of kids playing together with their young nursery teacher. [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786682][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/children5.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786738][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/group.jpg[/img][/url]

Group of kids playing together with their young nursery teacher.

Would it surprise us to know that none of these fears and anxieties are truly about our child? And that our play anxiety is a signal of our own wounds around vitality, connection, trust and joy?

Reframing Demands as Invitations

I'd like to suggest that our child's apparently "unreasonable" request or demand for play is a sign of the imbalance in the relationship that is asking for restored equilibrium. We all get off kilter, personally and therefore interpersonally. Our innocent children are wise in their emotional radar of what feels "off" in themselves and in their parents.

When a kid irritably or dreadfully pushes for play, it is a messy, urgent signal in the same way a baby's pressing cry signals "something's not right." True, a baby's need to change a wet diaper is a clear sign and an easy need to decode and fulfil. It's very clear. It's real. And it takes a couple of minutes.

Our child's "demand" for play is an invitation for healing.       So, what does time have to do with play? Many parents fear that play requires time, that it will usurp their time and put in motion a process that will have a messy, resistant conclusion. "If I play with him and let him really get into it, he won't ever stop or let me go."

This is not truth, but our no positive imagination of what will leak out. And we will often unknowingly bring this about in order to excuse our belief. We defend our fears.

Kids playing with wooden toys. Two children, cute toddler girl and funny baby boy, playing with wooden toy blocks, building towers at home or day care. Educational child toys for preschool and kindergarten.

Kids playing with wooden toys. Two children, cute toddler girl and funny baby boy, playing with wooden toy blocks, building towers at home or day care. Educational child toys for preschool and kindergarten.

Can we defend our right to play too?

If we can acknowledge our anxiety, anger and fear about play, we can discover it with interest and patience. We may become aware of how these feelings and emotions can feel like an internal constriction for parents who hurt or suffered in their own childhood with too much external control from adults who put a solid cover on their emotions.

When our own joyful urges and experiences were suppressed or met with anxiety or disdain, we adjusted by learning how to do exactly the same to ourselves. As parents, our minds, bodies and hidden memories set the tone for play in the same way. We may not be conscious of our internal “barometer” for deeply connecting practices and processes... like play.

Most often, our kid's "demand" for play is an invitation for healing. For our child. For us. For the family. For the relationship.


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