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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 homeschooling to take up a smaller part of every day. I saw it as an opportunity for my children to develop their unstructured play which I knew would help them 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 wouldn’t go out to play. I tried to encourage him to 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 led what he felt necessary for his body to do. I went back 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 went in a few times to check he was okay and he was lying in bed. I came quietly out, and I realised he was 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 cautious at the amount of activities my children go to outside of school as I know they need unstructured play and an even further depth of need to come into our new routine and I see this as a time of growing their skills still.

As the day passed, I realised that he didn’t lack 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 standard will be.

Every child should be encouraged to practice being still throughout their week, nothing but stillness. The power of deep rest allows us to figure out deeper parts of who we are; body, soul and mind.

Eileen Russell

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