Importance of play…

Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. Get down on the floor and play with your child, you will both enjoy the interaction, they will be learning important skills and you will deepen your attachment.  There is nothing better than hearing your child giggle.

Joy is often confused with excitement. But it differs in a fundamental way. Joy is activated by the parasympathetic nervous system. In contrast, activation of the sympathetic nervous system is experienced as excitement. Excitement often comes from an external event or circumstance (like the excitement you feel playing a competitive game of volleyball).  Joy, on the other hand, might best be described as coming from an internal source. That is, you don’t necessarily need anything in your environment for you to feel joyful. You just are!

The distinction is important because while we can, and often do, place ourselves in situations that are exciting (fairground rides, scary films etc.) it’s not possible to experience joy unless the right neuropathways have been laid down in the nervous system.   These are built through positive interactions with a parent or caregiver.  They aren’t based on performances or earned, parents smile and gaze lovingly at their children just because.  The joy and value you convey will help build your child’s sense of value and self worth.  Some children will never have experienced joy and sometimes it will take time as a new parent to feel it, play is a great way to try and find joy for both of you.  Its important that you fake it till you do feel it so that your child can start building  their internal sense of worth and joy and eventually experience joy just because.