By Norma Richman
“Play Is When Children Feel Most Powerful”
High Point’s final Parent Education event of the year was all about play…with a serious intent. Child and Adolescent Therapist Georgie Wisen-Vincent of Pasadena’s Center for Connection presented a thoughtful case for the value of playtime on a daily basis—playtime that not only empowers children but also empowers the adults that care for them.
The discussion began with an explanation of the research behind her contention that play helps the integration of all parts of the brain. This integration sets up our children to better cope with life’s challenges, so much so that it “creates a life-long template for emotional resilience.” One of the key components of this parent-child interaction is the development of creativity.
According to Georgie, creative problem-solving builds the confidence that children need; it nurtures their self-confidence when parents support their children in solving a problem such as how to build a fort in a different manner or how to make up a new way to play with blocks. It sounds simple, but parents themselves sometimes struggle with finding the time to play or finding an activity that is mutually enjoyable. Sometimes it’s just about finding the will to play.
Georgie offered strategies for fitting play into everyone’s busy day and made a case for the payoff down the road as children mature. Not only do children build confidence as partners in this play, but they also develop resilience to better cope with disappointments and even trauma. Their creativity can allow them to come up with ingenious solutions that will empower them to bounce back.
Even half an hour per week of play activity, scheduled or spontaneous, can have a long-term benefit in easing stress and promoting general outlook. Imagine what daily activity can do. Georgie offered an easy way to build time into a daily routine: set aside a mutually agreed-upon time slot. She offered up the suggestion that a few minutes of play up front (before that important phone call or email) will buy parents some peace later and make their children feel important and empowered.
Georgie Wisen-Vincent not only offers services through The Center’s Play Strong Institute, but she also works as an adjunct faculty member at Loma Linda University School of Behavioral Health. Her expertise includes working with parents, adolescents, and children. While her slide show offered valuable research and statistics, Georgie’s lively hands-on demonstrations served to further demonstrate strategies for parents. For those wanting more ideas, two links are provided below. These represent her most recent blogs and videos, as well as a link directly to The Center for Connection in Pasadena.