Did you know that each of us have a play personality?! Our contributor, Dawn, unravels how to make play part of everyday! 

“It isn’t something to do—it’s a way to be.”
– Robyn Gobbel, author

When you hear those words, “Mommy, come play with me!”, what is your response? For most of us, it brings a sense of obligation, frustration or even resentment. We have so much work to do, that who has time for play?

But what if “play” becomes who we are rather than what we do? What if we infuse our everyday lives and mundane chores with play rather than finishing our work so we have time to play?

I first became interested in the science of play after listening to presentations from Dr. Stuart Brown, also known as the Dr. of Play. He has spent his life’s work studying play at the National Institute for Play ( Lack of play can lead to things like depression and poor impulse control. Children today are forced to sit still in a chair for up to 8 hours every day in school and suppress their natural play-based curiosity for learning. Add to that the multiple hours a day that many kids spend on electronic devices outside of school and you get no time for free, uninterrupted playful activities.

I encourage all of you to explore the science of play and find out for yourself how important it is for both you and your child. In doing so, you will discover that each of us has our own “play personality.” This helped me when interacting with my child. I realized how his play personality was leading to his style of playfulness throughout the day that was different from mine. Understanding these differences and appreciating them has helped us to remain playful together throughout our daily activities. Instead of setting aside time to play with my child, I try to keep our time playful when we are together.

Here are the play personalities which are described in detail on Dr. Brown’s website:

The Collector
The Competitor
The Creator/Artist
The Director
The Explorer
The Joker
The Kinesthete
The Storyteller

I identify with the explorer and the kinesthete while my son loves to collect and create things. So I try to plan hikes and bike rides that also have a treasure hunt involved to collect things for a creation we will build together when he get back home. This helps us both to remain playful even when doing something that might not feel playful if done in isolation. Just knowing that my son’s play personality involves collecting things has helped to decrease my anxiety surrounding the piles of junk (I mean treasure) that collect around my house (and garage and yard and car!). It makes me smile when I see a pile of popsicle sticks pulled from the garbage and placed in a drawer in his room. The collector creator is at work!

I encourage you to explore your own play personality as well as your childrens’. Try to find things to do together where each person can add their play strength to the equation and make a fun family activity where everyone finds joy!


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