Why Is Play The Most Therapeutic Tool?

Fancy a game of scrabble or hide and seek? Play might be the most therapeutic tool for everyone; both children and adults. Play allows a person to apply game strategies to accomplish life goals. It is universal and the most therapeutic tool used to activate all parts of the body. Playing is fun, it is learning and growth and, it is definitely not a trivial pursuit.

Play with children

Play develops language and literacy skills. It is a spontaneous activity; voluntary, pleasurable and flexible. It helps shapes the brain, develops critical thinking skills and strengthens the ability to collaborate with others in social and professional settings.

Like Albert Einstein said Play is the highest form of research. Children go on a discovery journey when they play. It is in the place of play that a child goes searching for what makes the television talk, drops your phone in a bowl of water or tries to open it up to know why it is ringing.

Play helps children to build their self-esteem

Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, physical cognitive, emotional strength and dexterity. It is through play that children learn and engage with the world at a very early age, play is important to the development of a healthy brain and gives children the opportunity to be spontaneous.

Play helps children try new things. It helps children process their emotions and teaches children how to exercise problem-solving skills. All children should have time for play; it is the building blocks for establishing confidence, coping abilities, flexibility and positive interactions with others. When parents engage in playing with their children; it helps them learn their child’s language, it teaches parents and adults patience and understanding.

‘Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul’ – Friedrich Froebel

While adult feel play is not necessary it is important to note that play is critical, the level of stress in our day to day lives is harmful to the human body. However, when people play it releases endorphins, improves brain functionality and also stimulates creativity. It is both a conscious and unconscious activity that enhances our lives and productivity.

Keeps relationships fresh and exciting

It brings resilience to the relationship, it boost the love between partners, it helps to heal resentments, disagreements and hurts. As an intervention tool, play is used in healing emotional hurt. The importance of play and laughter cannot be underestimated and plays an essential role in building strong, healthy relationships. “Man is fully human when he is at play” – Schiller

Play does not have to be expensive and it does not have to take you out of your home always

All you need is to be intentional about bonding with your family and creating quality time for your family and yourself. For a family playtime, everyone has to be involved in the activities to be effective. [Tweet “Considering the busy nature of most families; it is helpful to dedicate a specific time and day as family playtime and bonding time.”]

Keep it Light

Playtime is not the time to discuss work, school activities or remember you need to scold your child for misbehaviour.

Friday night can be your family television night where you all bring out different games to play, have dancing competitions, cooking competition, storytelling moments and every other fun activity that you can infuse.

I know of some families whose playtime is Saturday morning between the hours of 7 am-10 am; while for some others, it happens later in the evening. If as a parent you know the importance of bonding with your child through play; then making sure you play with them will become one of your top priorities. As I mentioned earlier, your family activities do not have to be expensive. You can decide to take a stroll, share jokes, turn off devices to have quality playtime or have dinner as a family. [Read: Budget-Friendly Things to Do with the Family]

You can also decide to go out of your home to play; like going to the parks, going to the beach, or go to the cinemas. After spending time together you want to ask your child what they enjoyed the most. It is a good idea after you spent time together, that you ask for feedback. You do not want to assume that your children had fun when they actually did not.

Play for Adults

For adults it is important you know how to ease your stress by playing and also to relax. It is advisable that everyone has a specific day and time where they go to rejuvenate themselves. This is called the Self Intimate Care Therapy for you.

When you fail to rejuvenate your body, you become mentally and emotionally drained; and in no time you begin to get upset at everything!

This is when you notice that you get easily provoked. Now is the time to look for what you need to do either as an individual or with friends to relax and de-stress. You can have your moment and play some games like ludo, scrabble, or even hide and seek are very effective in making you laugh and relax.

Remember our busy nature will most likely increase, but play will keep declining if you fail to be deliberate about it. Adults need to incorporate play into their daily schedule.

Play enables and supports good mental health

It is important to our overall wellbeing, Play is crucial to mental creativity, health and happiness. Extensive evidence has connected the formation of emotional attachment early in a child’s life to healthy brain development. The regulation of emotions, the ability to show empathy, the ability to form emotional relationships, emotional resilience and to playfulness.

When it comes to a child’s ability to cope with stress and anxiety, secure emotional attachments have been shown to be fundamental.

[Tweet “When we abandon play we abndon an important part of ourselves, those who play little become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor” – Start Brown.”]

The increased rate in mental health challenges is sometimes associated with a lack of free play; and as such play has also been used as therapeutic treatments for mental health. The truth is that play has a way of encouraging a positive attitude towards yourself and improves one’s mental health. Play allows one to release energy and reduce worry for a period of time. In that period, you are able to see solutions and it helps reduces tension.

Eases stress

When we enjoy ourselves the brain releases dopamine, and norepinephrine helping reward us and generating brain plasticity.

Some parents find it annoying when their 6-year-old daughter still wants to play with her doll, or their 10-year-old son refuses to give a specific toy to his younger brother. Parents might be found saying things like “you are now big girl you should stop playing with toys” or “you have outgrown such play; big boys don’t play with sand”.

Actually, sand play is one of the most therapeutic plays for children. The culture of taking play away from a child is damaging to that child. It is important to find age-appropriate toys for the child so that your child can still play. Your child is a child and using words that make them become an emergency adult affects them. Don’t take away your child’s childhood away from him or her.

[Tweet “Your child is a child and using words that makes them become an emergency adult affects them. Don’t take away your child’s childhood away from him or her.”]

We have adults today who regret never having a childhood. As a parent, give your child the best memory of their childhood or else when they grow up they will resent you. In addition, as an adult inculcate play into your daily activities. Allow yourself to have fun and engage in playful activities.


More about Zuriel Oluwabukunola Olowe


Zuriel Oluwabukunola Olowe, also known as the Own Your Essence advocate; is all about helping people attaining their wholeness, preserving their emotions and protecting their esteem. She is a lawyer, a certified community mental health facilitator trainer, a certified emotional intelligence specialist and a family life therapist.

Oluwabukunola is the convener of “Women healing women group” also known as ‘Women under construction’. A WhatsApp women ministry group where she works with women; who have had emotional hurt, dealing with traumatic experience and have gone through life’s challenges. A place of grace, healing and restoration where women find healing,closure and birth a new chapter for themselves.

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