By Otis Donkey
….You were knee high to a grasshopper and your mom threw you out of the house in summertime and told you not to come home until the streetlights came on? Cardboard boxes became rocket- ships or pirate ships and off you sailed to adventure. Or maybe you lived rural and you took your fishing pole out and caught craw-dads and made your own adventures in the woods and fields by your house, being ambushed by enemy forces, digging for hidden treasure, not coming home til you your stomach told you to, or your ma hit that dinner bell outside your back door.
This is called play. Play is essential for a child’s development. Supervised and assisted play in the younger more dependent years until some independence is achieved by responsible and self sufficient behavior of the child. Independent play is essential for healthy development.
“Human beings need pleasure the way they need vitamins.”Lionel Tiger
Independent child’s play triggers creativity, develops cognitive skills, and is stress reduction. It aids in the development of problem solving skills and creates a set of physical, social and emotional skills. Playing in groups of children or in pairs leads to experimentation, seeking and recognizing boundaries, and sets the patterns of behavior that we use to navigate adult life. Even adults need play. I will repeat this. Play is stress reduction.
“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.”Diane Ackerman
Being outdoors in the sunshine not only provides a body with Vitamin D, it has been shown that it improves mood and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. Physical exercise releases endorphins, those feel good chemicals that your brain needs. It also helps you sleep better as well as just being healthy to just get moving. You don’t use it, you lose it. Your prescription from Doctor Donkey is to recall your play time as a kid and if you don’t have access to kids, grandkids, neighborhood kids and play with them, to take your pet, spouse or just yourself and get outside and be a kid again. Even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. Or two days a week.