by Cynthia M. Braden, MFT
“Stop playing! Get to work!”
Has anyone given this message to her children?
“Get busy! Do something productive!”
In this article, we will explore the importance of free, child-directed play as an aspect of development, and understand a few things about the different kinds of play…
…Because everything is about play and fantasy when you’re a child, right? Even when you’re an adult too, but that’s another subject…
We can observe play behaviors in our infants soon after birth. The moment the swaddling is off, the newborn’s arms are flailing about trying to figure out how to get fingers in mouth while living in air instead of amniotic fluid.
She knows there is no milk in her fingers. She is playing.
Both solitary and interactive play evolve into abilities we need to be fulfilled in life. If play is advertently or deliberately suppressed, there can be difficulties in interpersonal relationships and achievement later on.
Here are things to know about play:
1. Solitary Play
The first type of play you may notice in your baby is solitary play. Infants will play with anything in their environment as well as their body parts. Fingers and toes are favorite playthings at the beginning of life. Infants may be happy staying alone in their cribs playing with their voices, their bodies or anything in their environment.
To facilitate solitary play, it’s fine to leave the baby in her crib or play pen as long as she’s not distressed. Some babies, when feeling securely attached, will stay in their cribs singing and fiddling around, rolling or whatever for long periods of time. It’s good to let her have quiet time as long as she’s not getting distressed.
Accidental ways of interrupting development of solitary play:
1) media such as television, radio, computer
2) arguing within earshot
3) too much rushing around
4) emotional tension
5) too many toys
Believe it or not, solitary play development in infancy and childhood helps people be able to work independently later on.
In the next article we will explore the next play skill: Onlooker Play
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