The PLAYgue

¨You know like when you would go outside and have huge block parties and -¨

¨ Nope I never had those.¨

¨Oh okay, well like when you would go play outside with your-,¨

¨ No I never played with any of my neighbors.¨

¨Oh, well, errr never mind then.¨

This conversation feels weird. Any time I have a conversation like this with one of my peers it leaves me with a heavy heart. I almost feel guilty for having the cheesy 90s movie childhood; the one where all your friends come over and you spend every free moment together, playing, causing mischief, laughing, and having fun.

I can say a lot of negative things about growing up. But the fun I had with my friends as a kid, is not one of them.

I thought this phenomenon, referring back to my awkward conversations,  was just occurring among the kids who grew up near my high school (I grew up 30 minutes away and do not know what growing up here was like ). But after watching a Ted Talk on ¨Play¨, I realize this is a growing PLAYgue. (get it like play and plague, gosh I’m clever). According to research there is a direct relationship between the decrease in children´s ability to play freely and the increase in anxiety  and depression among adolescents.

An even more interesting study of play is the science behind the development of children´s social behavior. My personality naturally takes on the role as mediator. I like to be the person people go to for advise when dealing with situations. I realized this behavior started  way before my high school days, it started when I was in elementary school.

Because life is not perfect and not everyone gets along 100% of the time people fight. This would even happen as kids. So being the pack leader that I was, invented ¨Kid Court¨ to handle all the arguments between us kids. The trial took place on my front yard, I acted as judge, and each side was given their turn to speak. Once both sides spoke, the remaining kids voted  for either side or we came up with a compromise.

If I was an adult and walked up to this gaggle of children determining who was right or wrong I would think it was pretty silly, but these moments matter. As a child you learn life skills on a smaller scale and practice them during free play. However the paranoid society we live in today makes it hard for kids to have these opportunities. Part of who I am is rooted in my playing as a little girl and I don´t know who I would be without those moments.  I think everyone should let every little girl and boy get a chance to develop every part of who they are, even if that means parents stay inside for a few minutes rather than watch their children like a hawk.

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