If we agree there’s a youth mental health crisis, can we also agree that “More therapists!” is not the only solution?
I worry our leaders automatically gravitate to middle-age solutions — yoga, therapy, meditation — even when they’re trying to help KIDS.
They miss a FREE, immediate, easily accessible “therapy” all kids used to get:
Playing = growing = healing. AND IT’S FUN.
All ages mixing! No electronic devices! Balls, chalk, jump rope, and voila — TRANSFORMATION! (Especially if you throw in some big cardboard boxes.)
WE ALL REMEMBER how important our play time was. It was when we made friends, invented games, argued, made up, ran, joked, laughed.
THOSE ARE MENTAL HEALTH GODSENDS!
Okay, so: What to do?
PARENTS: Take a look at the two-part “Practical Tips to Get Your Kids Outside” we just published here and here. They may inspire you. The biggest takeaway is to try to find other families nearby who are ALSO eager to let their kids just play. Community is key! Sharing this blog post, “Play is Not a Stupid Waste of Time” may get you some more buy-in.
SCHOOLS: While you’re waiting for a boatload of therapists, GIVE KIDS MORE PLAY TIME! It’s easy! HOW?
Start a LET GROW PLAY CLUB!
Fast. Free. Straightforward. Play Club meets before or after school. Kids and parents sign a little behavior pledge. The supervisors are like lifeguards–not jumping in unless there’s an emergency. The students organize their own games, solve their own arguments, learn how to get along and make things happen.
Kids call it fun. Adults call it MENTAL HEALTH.
A bonus for schools: Fewer discipline issues.
Goode, the principal, was regularly dealing with 200 or more disciplinary incidents a year. Nearly all were from playground fights. Last year, less than 50 crossed her desk. She credits that to Play Club’s influence. She sees students at recess talking out problems instead of fighting.
We heard the same thing when we did a webinar on the nuts and bolts of starting a play club with someone who’d done it. Watch here.
Not dissing therapy, just respecting play!
Therapy is great. Done it myself. (I live in NYC. It’s practically required!) Breathing exercises, mindfulness, downward dogs — they’re all good. But playing is the original social-emotional health curriculum!
The Play Club is FAST, FREE, EQUITABLE, EASY and YOU CAN START ONE THIS WEEK. Please consider doing so! Drop a line if you have any questions: [email protected]
And meantime, WATCH what REAL KIDS are SAYING ABOUT THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF their school’s PLAY CLUB: