Prioritise time for play and connection over the holidays!

Feature Articles Friday, 18 Sept 2020

In a time when we are all so ‘crazy-busy’ and managing the constant burden of not getting enough done, it is important to stop and ensure we invest quality time and energy in opportunities for connection.

Stop and play!

All children benefit from their parents or guardians engaging with them in play. Of course, what this play looks like differs as our children grow and move into adolescence, but child-led play is an ideal way for parents to engage with their children. It can strengthen relationships and is also considered a mental health promotion strategy, reducing the experience of anxiety, depression, aggression and sleep problems. We can easily get caught up in trying to ‘fit it all in’, but when we prioritise opportunities for child-led play, we can engage with, and tune into, our children’s experiences and needs and this is a fundamental need that supports their wellbeing and resilience.

As adolescents’ focus shifts to time and connection with friends, parents continue to exert a significant impact on their development, with secure parent-adolescent attachment linked with adaptive behaviour, mental health, social skills, and coping strategies. The relationship with our adolescent can be challenged as they attempt to individuate and seek autonomy, however their successful transition is facilitated by their secure attachment and connectedness with parents.

As their needs change, it is important to stop and think about what adolescents need from their parents to maintain a healthy attachment. They may not need us to physically console them when they fall anymore, but parental sensitivity and attunement remain necessary. When we understand that independence does not mean disconnection and view their behaviour as a function of adolescence instead of a reflection of who they are, we are in a better position to maintain connection despite conflict and the flux inherent in the adolescent transition.

Jasmin & Khara
Guidance Counsellors (Clinical Psychologists)