Michele Coleman, Ph. D. LMFT
Play. This month, as I prepared a training for my clinicians I was surprised to learn all of the benefits of Play. The training was based on the book by Dr. Stuart Brown, Play: How it Shapes the Brain Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (2010). Based on his research, Dr. Brown states that he sees a reduction in violence in abused youth at risk for antisocial behavior when play is introduced. Play stimulates nerve growth and develops the frontal cortex. In particular, play enhances the part of the brain responsible for attention, language processing, and sensing musical rhythm.
Some of our children struggle with focusing in class and knowing how to cooperatively interact with peers. Engaging in physical play with our children creates an environment in which they can learn how to stabilize their body and fosters social development. When we play board games, or hand games like the games we grew up with, we create an environment in which our children learn how to focus and engage in appropriate social interactions.
As the holidays approach, this tends to be a stressful time for families. I invite you to pull out those board games, dust off the card decks, and create time each week to play a family game. Dr. Brown says there are eight play personalities, and we can have a mix of several. The play personalities are: the Joker, Kinesthete, Explorer, Competitor, Director, Collector, Artist/Creator, and Storyteller. This holiday season I invite you to have fun discovering your play personality.