Tweens Need to Play Too!!!

First off, let me explain why I want to share our community of amazing educators with you, and why I am a stand for our series “PLAY-ducation”.   

We are suffering a Play Deficit.  It isn’t hypothetical, it isn’t some social media farce gone wrong.  It is true.  Canada received a failing grade in the area of play.  A big F!  What would you do if your bean came home with an F on their report card, you would certainly pay attention.  So we are!  Play will not die off overnight, it will be a slow process and in generations to come, there will be no such thing of Free, Unstructured Play.  And generations will suffer. We will lose the vital skills that we need to grow into healthy, well-adjusted communicative adults.  

Insert our Play Series.  Different topics, amazing speakers, a night out to grow, learn and feel supported in your family values.  

This week we had the AMAZING Andrea Chatwin, our resident Play Maven and Certified Childhood Development Specialist come and talk about Tweens.  I was particularly excited about this topic because I have a tween. I see how my five year old plays unleashed and perfectly without any restrictions, but I notice as my first born, a once unleashed little girl now turned tween, is still young at heart but craving to be mature and grown up.  

So we created a presentation “Tweens Need to Play Too” and as always Andrea Chatwin NEVER DISAPPOINTS. 

Although hard to articulate the impact of what I learned, I will share a few key points:

Tweens need to play in order to develop into confident and competent young people. Their need for self directed, unstructured free play remains consistent even as they enter middle to late childhood, and moreover Neuroscience is telling us that children need to play for optimal brain development to occur!

What symptoms of over-scheduling may look like…
Psychological - Irritability.  Difficulty focusing. Difficulty concentrating. Behavioural difficulties.

Physical - Poor eating habits. Sleep difficulties. Headaches. Stomach aches.

Understanding the Pull to Electronics:
Artificial Mastery – electronics easily and quickly give the child/tween the feeling of “I did something well”. Making actual, real life mastery some what boring.

Immediate Gratification – the user feels relief and/or feels better faster than it takes when one goes out to play. 

Dissociative State – “I am no longer available emotionally in this situation”. children/tweens can shut out the outside world, they don’t have to feel anything or be connected with their inner worlds. They can be emotionally blank, yet still get immediate gratification.

Coming down from the technology high:
Mood differences post electronic play; Limited patience or impulse control; Difficulty focusing or attending to tasks; Impact on parent child relationship

Responding to your child/tweens behavior:
Step 1 – Empathy, Empathy, Empathy. Express to your child/tween that you fully understand what their experience is right now and why their request is so important (ie. I want to watch more tv). Get alignment.

Step 2 – Set your limit clearly and firmly (ie. tv is not for today).

Step 3 – Give your child/tween choices to return some control back to them. Refocus the issue on to something they do have control over (Ie. no tv before school, but when you come home you can decide if you want to watch 1 hour after school or after dinner).

How to Play with Your Tweens:
  • Offer joint attention. Focus and value something just as much as they do. Join their experience. Find what lights their eyes, what causes them to be interested.  If only for 30 minutes a week be with them in whatever capacity they desire.  
  • Playing with a younger child helps your tween to engage in healthy play activities without the concern that it is too babyish.
  • Keep toys accessible. Even when kids/tweens claim that they are finished with “toys”, if they are accessible they will likely gravitate towards them in quiet times.
  • Encourage natural play. Kids need to be outside, whether this is at a local park or in your backyards
  • Play together as a family. Indoor games, outdoor activities, sports, crafting.

Join us Wednesday, October 29th for the next talk in our PLAY-ducation Series, "Raising Children in a Digital World" with Dr. Deborah MacNamara. Admission is by donation. All proceeds will be donated to Playground Builders. Please SAVE YOUR SEAT and RSVP to

In love and play, 

No comments: