Self-Directed Social Play: How Can It Help Children?

Photo: (Photo : cottonbro from Pexels)

Self-directed social play is a play that children themselves arrange and manage, including rule-making. Such play is helping children to grow better and improve themselves. 

Humans are social mammals. For young social mammals' lives, they are filled with self-directed social play as part of their growth and learn how to function well in social bondings and relationships. 

Based on some animal studies with brains similar to humans, self-directed social play helps manage and balance their emotions. That also helps to foster brain growth, makes them energetic and more lively. 

On the other hand, the lack of self-directed social play can lead to altered social, sexual, and conflicts with peers and increased aggression. 

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A study on self-directed social play

O. Fred Donaldson, the founder of Original Play, played with children as therapy and with wild animals for fun. Donaldson said that self-directed social play is helping children to belong, connect, and to build a partnership. 

Not only that, but it is also helping children to let go of their fears and judgments, not to mention to move on from their one idea to another. Another thing that self-directed social play is helping children with is to form loving relationships and allow them to open up and be seen by others. 

When it comes to living their life and as they grow up, self-directed social play is helping children to maintain their self-esteem for themselves as well as others, create a base for the best learning, creativity, and self-growth, not to mention that it also helps to increase their good chances of adapting to new environments in life's ever-changing conditions. 

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Social plays among children 

Social plays also have different kinds of children's different needs. 

Play therapy can be used to heal not only children but as well as adults. They are known to help children with fear, anxiety, autism, PTSD, ADHD, and attachment problems. 

Attachment play at home is when parents and children adopt a routine of social play together that will help with their family bonding. Such a play does not have a purpose, meaning it is about having fun. 

Nonsense play involves saying things backward or putting pants on your head. Magnifying feelings or silly replies are fun ways to redirect a reluctant child. 

Cooperative games include making up stories together with your children, song games, board games that need teams, and even sports games. 

Such a play can help your children. But, experts say that there are some rules for parents and adults that they need to follow to make this work. 

Parents and children during play

Adults and parents need to follow their children's lead and avoid teaching or correcting them. Do not tease them or tickle them. Do not cut in or analyze the play. Follow their laughter; this means that something is going right. Do not try to play when your children are crying. For major traumas, seek help. 

Plays like these have good effects on both parents and children, including improving their secure bond and relationship. 

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