30 April 2020
Children learning the power of being still
As a play therapist at the beginning of this pandemic, my advice to parents was to allow space for lots unstructured play as a priority in lockdown and home schooling to be a small part of every day. I saw it as an opportunity for my children to develop their unstructured play which I knew would help them to process their current situation and develop their imagination. However, I never once pondered the power of them learning to be still.
The truth is as lockdown progresses my children are becoming less motivated for school work which I get but also for playing outside or the usual unstructured play which had been developing so well in lockdown. My seven-year-old son decided he didn’t want to go out anymore and play with any of the things that had become familiar in his new routine. I tried to encourage him he could do whatever he wanted outside which didn’t work and I had to take myself away and think about what I could do next.
I realised it didn’t matter if he was inside or outside as long as he was leading what he felt necessary for his body to do. I went back to him and told him he could do whatever he wanted as long as it wasn’t on any screens.
He spent most of the day in his bedroom, drawing, talking to himself and I went in a few times just to check he was okay and he was lying in bed, I came quietly out and I realised he was just being still with himself, I quietly left the room. The more I thought about it the more delighted I became. As a play therapist, I know it’s something lots of children struggle with, being still.
I have always been very careful at the amount of activities my children go to outside of school as I know they need unstructured play but an even further depth of need to come into our new routine and I see this as a time of growing their skills being still.
I realised as the day passed that he didn’t have a lack of motivation, he is learning to be still with himself and process life, to connect with himself on a deeper level. The truth is all humans need to practise this skill because that how we get to process deeper depths of who we are. If that’s the only thing my children take from lockdown it has been positively life-changing for them and it’s something I need to keep in mind as I parent them in whatever our new normal will be like.
Just like I urge parents not to ‘perform’ play activities and home school for long periods keeping their children busy, I also urge you to allow them downtime with nothing but stillness. The power of being still allowing us to figure out the deeper parts of who we are; body, soul and mind.