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The Art of Playfulness

Kid on playground with grass in background

As an adult, when I reflect on being a kid, I recall the joy of running through the sprinklers, playing hide and go seek, swimming, staying out in the neighborhood playing after school until mom called out the front door “time for dinner”, jumping in puddles left by the rains, heck, just playing out in the rain. Every one of these memories conjures up a happy feeling in my heart. If I close my eyes I can remember the catch of my breath upon the cold sprinkler water hitting my body, the excited anticipation of being found in my hiding place, the smell of suntan lotion mixed with chlorine, or the disappointment of having to break from neighborhood fun to go inside. The saddest loss I see in youth today is that carefree feeling, the ease with which to be playful. Now it’s all about the “doing”. What activities will look best on a college resume? What’s the best choice that will enable a child to push to the next phase? Often, when I have families I am working with, I see in the parents that same feeling of push and pull to give their kids the calm, quiet, fun space they remember having as a child, and to push them to reach their best potential so that they stay competitive with their peers. I often worry and wonder, what is the cost of raising kids in the competitive environment we subscribe to today? Development is development, and there is only so much we can expect from our kids at each stage. Maxing out on their time and energy isn’t a happy balance, for our kids or us. And the effect it is having on the youth today is the absolute inability to just sit and enjoy. Now it’s all about getting from one activity to the next. So this post is meant to challenge you. Grab your kids and challenge them to a game of hide and seek, take them out into the sunshine and skip around the block, create a neighborhood scavenger hunt (go onto Pinterest and download one), or dust off the cover of your favorite board game, and after dinner sit and enjoy the carefree playfulness that comes with youth and the connection to it.


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