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Guide Overview

Creating a Play-FULL Bond

Play is necessary for all healthy attachment relationships. Some thoughts on understanding play and how to create it in a way that is effective for you and your children.
February 24, 2023
Summary Notes

- Playfulness is essential in strengthening relationships with children and can deepen the bond between parent and child.

- The presence of security in a parent-child relationship creates an environment for playfulness and exploration.

- Play is not limited to silly games and can include activities such as puzzles, reading, art, sports, and costumes.

- Playfulness puts the brain into a state of rest, allowing one to relax and be present in the moment, which can help diffuse stressful situations.

- Every parent and child has their own play profile and it is important to understand and recognize these to develop a rhythm of connected playfulness.

- The idea of "play a day" means making sure that there is a playful encounter between parent and child every day, no matter how small.

- For those who may struggle with playfulness due to fear or a traumatic background, mindfulness meditations and therapy can help to relax the body and overcome such obstacles.

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 Let's do a quick but deep dive on why playfulness matters so much in your relationship with your children and how it actually deepens your bond with them and helps in those more tender or dysregulated moments. Why is play so helpful and what does it do? So I want you to think of your favorite teacher.

Maybe they were an elementary school teacher, junior high, high school. My guess is that there was something about that teacher that made you feel really safe and in that safety that they helped you go into more of an explore mode or a play mode. And that is the experience in a parent-child relationship when there is security, is that a parent feels like a place where you can be safe enough to.

Use the word explore in particular because play has a lot of stereotypes. So the stereotype is that if you're a playful parent, you're really goofy, and that's not necessarily true. There are a lot of different types of play puzzles are play reading can be play, uh, drawing and art, sports silliness, acting costumes, um, games of any kind.

Like the, the process of doing something for the purpose of pleasure to. In our brain is in a state of rest. In other words, it's not looking for threat. We are able to truly relax, take down our guard, and be present in a moment. Playfulness actually makes that happen faster. So if you are in a situation or a dynamic with your child where they're really upset and they are struggling and you're being em, , you could enter playfulness into that scene.

I talk about this, a lot of my social medias, you know, maybe your child doesn't wanna get dressed, so you put their pants and underwear on your head and you walk around and you're like, you know, Hern, the Hippo graph. I don't know. Um, I've clearly been reading Harry Potter. Anyway, that there's this, I. Uh, ability to take playfulness and insert it into a stressful moment and help bring down the stress of that moment because it's signaling safety, it's signaling I'm not just a parent that's like trying to get you to do what, what I want you to do.

Even though I am, I am also a parent that cares about your enjoyment of that process. So it's not just about power and control, for me, it is about helping to guide you in a way that you can date. Just her parent has a different play profile and every child has a different play profile. For instance, my husband can sit and do Legos for hours and hours and hours and doesn't seem to get bored, whereas I only enjoy Legos.

If there is a very direct assembly process and we're following the booklet, and then I find it very satisfying. But just like free flow, Lego building is not my jam, but if you wanna put on some costumes and pretend to be something, then I'm all in. Whereas my husband is like, no, thanks. One of my daughters, her play profile is wrestling.

I always joke that her love language is full contact. She loves that proprioceptive play. She wants to play with the ball, she wants to move her body around. My other daughter really loves the process of playing dress up and imagination, and she's always putting on some different costume and painting her nails.

I wonder if she might be a little bit like her mother anyway. Um, my sons is more, he loves video games. He loves them and not just in like a, oh, all these kids these days love video games. He loves the process of like strategizing and learning what's happening and like, um, he also. Playing board games, which is awesome because I love board games.

So you wanna take a minute and study your own play profile, but you also wanna study your children's play profiles. What is it that lights them up? What do they have the longest attention span for? Right? Can they sit and draw for hours or do they make a stick man, and then they're done? What draws them into that state of feeling meaningful?

Enjoy. The standard rule for developing this rhythm of connected playfulness with your children is something I just call it play a day. So we're making sure that with each of our children, there is a playful encounter every single day. That doesn't have to be for an hour. That could just be that they come into the kitchen and you're like, robot, who is very excited to see you.

Right? Or maybe it's that you sh cut their, uh, pancakes. Shape. They love something that signals to them that you care about them feeling delight in the world. You who are listening to this and thinking like, I don't know how to do this. This isn't actual, to me, it is likely. That's because you grew up in a home where there was a lot of fear and you have a neurochemistry of fear.

So your body is used to being tense, focused on survival, right? Versus letting your guard down and learning how to enjoy a moment if that is the. I would recommend a couple of things. One, really doing some mindfulness meditations, learning how to calm your body and bring yourself out of that chemistry.

Neurochemistry. Okay. Neurochemistry of fear, and also two, considering going to therapy and doing some trauma work with someone that you feel really comfortable with. Finding a therapist you think gets you, understands your story and can help you learn how to relax your body. EMDR therapists are usually pretty good at this, so that would be a good.

Key to look for and someone is that they've been trained in emdr, they can help you resource and learn how to bring your body down and then explore what are the things, if you were to feel safe, what are the things you would enjoy doing and how would you enjoy doing them? And what can you do to incorporate those into your life for yourself and for you and your children?

Good luck.