In this becomes a mechanism for development, a way way, children develop a repertoire of flexible of developing the skills needed for adult life. Yet play is more than mere environments. In play, physical movements, voices and language are exaggerated, incomplete or in the wrong order; storylines become unpredictable, random and fantastical; conventional behaviours are inverted or subverted; and the rules of the game are changed to allow play to continue Sutton-Smith , Burghardt , Pellis and Pellis The manifestation of this varies depend- Protection rights Survival is not merely a question of maintaining life; biologically speaking, it refers to the ways an organism can favourably position itself in its environment, to maintain both current and future integrity and to respond to the demands of the environment.
This is evident in the decline adaptive capabilities and resilience. The experi- in playing outdoors and an increase in adult ence of play effects changes to the architecture supervision, although this is not a uniform pat- of the brain, particularly in systems to do with tern Karsten , Van Gils et al. In addi- emotion, motivation and reward Burghardt tion, play is valued for its role in learning and , leading to further playing. These include: and Barker , Mattsson , Gaskins Provision rights Severe stresses that children encounter include Provision implies much more than providing violence, fear, discrimination, child abuse, play facilities.
Adults should be aware of the importance of The association between playfulness, adap- play, and promote and protect the conditions tive behaviour and well-being means it can that support it.
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Any intervention to promote be assumed that an absence of play is harmful play must acknowledge its characteristics and Siviy et al. The persistent allow sufficient flexibility, unpredictability absence of play may disrupt emotion-regulation and security for children to play freely. The principle is to opment may be compromised. This does not uphold article 31 of the CRC through support- necessarily mean providing specific services; ing the conditions where play can take place.
It aims to provide a basis of childhood and the role of play.
Yet this future perspective, play as a right. The separation of play from work is not so clear-cut, since it is not necessarily bound by There are many different and often contradic- time and space. It might more readily be understood as a disposition, an approach to activity Respecting the right to play requires States Par- rather than an activity itself. This issue of control, Ward This requires adults to respect this together with its embedded and interstitial understanding of play when planning environ- nature, introduces one of the many paradoxes ments specifically aimed at children such as regarding the role of adults, and particularly schools, hospital wards, childcare settings and States Parties, in implementing this element of play provision.
It also requires adults to respect article Instead, we must natural disasters, as recognised by Camfield et move towards a broader ecological, political, al. This requires a sound conditions are right for children to play. These rights require not only the policy-makers to professionals, caregivers and existence of the means to fulfil the rights the general public. Parents have a with disabilities and children of minority or responsibility to make sure that children are indigenous groups.
Children are not supposed to protection from all forms of child abuse, be overworked with homework or work at neglect, exploitation and cruelty, including home. Children should be left to play. It recog- the best interests of the child. Which right is paramount: the right dren and participating in their indigenous play to participate or the right to be protected?
Debates on the right of children to be children Van Gils , evolving capacities of the child encapsulate although of course, present lives will shape these tensions see Lansdown , seeing these future ones too. The child—adult dualism conceptualisation sees childhood as a preparatory period during Protection rights which children progress through a universal Chapter 3 considers the evidence for play and linear set of stages in order to reach the acting across a number of adaptive systems goal of adulthood.
Within this conceptualisa- pleasure and enjoyment, emotion regulation, tion, childhood, particularly early childhood, is stress response systems, attachments, learning characterised by vulnerability and dependence and creativity to contribute to well-being and Woodhead and adulthood by rationality resilience and, as such, being a form of self-pro- and autonomy. Play is seen as a mechanism for tection. In this way, play is fundamental to This paper draws on and attempts to synthesise survival, health, well-being and development, a broad range of academic disciplines to present rather than being an optional luxury.
Introduction and contextualisation Participation rights labour, or promoted its therapeutic value in Chapter 4 explores play as a means of partici- crisis situations. The remaining chapters of this paper cultures. In this way, play is seen as fundamental directly address how children use play as a to articles 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the CRC, form of self-enacted realisation of the CRC as as well as article While play is a This paper draws predominantly on research robust phenomenon, it can be compromised by and theorising from the minority world.
Both extreme and toxic stress brought about through authors are from the UK and are inevitably the actions of adults. Although we ceiving, feeling and acting in the world.
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The act have played as children, we now see the world of playing, where children appropriate time and through our adult filters and impose adult space for their own needs and desires, has value meanings, seeking to explain the irrational in for developing a range of flexible and adaptable rational terms. She immediately suspects him he has a reputa- The urge to play represents a transforming tion of being the class joker , and tells him rather than conforming stance Henricks , not to do it, without saying it so loud that a belief in being able to change and have control the teacher hears.
I keep an eye on him now, over external conditions. In play, order as a and he soon turns around again, gives me a representation of dominant adult organisation complicit glance and gently hits her again. Spinka The girl turns and confronts him, and in his et al.
A short argument with his neighbour tion of uncertainty and unbalance in order to follows, before he begins to not so gently regain control, as training for the unexpected. All the time this is of being out of control Gordon and Esbjorn- happening, the girl is watching, and all three Hargens This injection of uncertainty is not only A playful disposition may result in structured, physical but also emotional. This suggests a subtle dis- into their play. Being playful They dig two holes in the sand and connect represents a particular approach to life, an them with a tunnel.
One child places his or urge to be open to and explore possibilities, to her head in one of the holes and is completely perceive and act in a way that denotes a sense covered with sand by the other children. They played with boats of a time—space that is not of the real world, there and then one boy of about eight hit even though it may use symbols and materials on the idea of getting some new-mown from the immediate social, physical and cultural grass from a nearby slope.
With the help of environment. For play to happen, the players a younger boy, he drove a big load of grass need to develop shared emotional expressions down to the puddle in a cart, emptied the and language. The children called it distinguish what is being engaged in is play spinach. Gradually they began to lift up the and therefore apart from the real world. When slippery stuff and watch how the water ran children get a sense that their expectations and off.
Then they loaded the wet grass into the emotions are shared with others, there is an cart and took it over to the sand-pit, where escalating cycle of synchronised communica- they mixed it with sand and shaped it into a tion and emotion often expressed through cake which they then proceeded to decorate laughter. This comes with an increased sense with gravel and stones in a neat circle, finally of attachment, manifested in shared symbolic adding sticks for candles.
Then he took more bites at a right angle down the edge, then a couple There is a tendency to see play as a liberating more … [the child] raised his now L-shaped process Harker , but children not only matzoh and gazed at it with pride. What a appropriate and transform the material and perfect gun! Yet at the ways of being, to transform structures and cross same time, through the very process of playing, borders Thorne She listens socialisation process into cultural belief systems, to the plop and watches the rings forming. The girls begin to keep threatening or of no value, leading to sanctions score of how many times they get a hit and and prohibitions.
The pre-school teach- be serious Lindquist One little boy … picked routines, fleeting encounters, embodied move- up his flat crisp matzoh and looked at it. Oke et al. Lindquist notes how ronmental causes of such behaviour, may the powerless can become powerful within the actually cause further harm Burghardt Play behaviours and actions in different ways.
It emerges in are deliberately exaggerated, invert and subvert the fabric of everyday life, and may appear conventional behaviours, vary in sequence, and to be ordinary and seemingly inconsequen- are unpredictable. Additionally, the disposition tial. But as we developed this paper, we or motivation to play is different from other contended that moments of play have life- motivational forces.
More recent studies look at what play may offer during the time of playing. This suggests a The adaptive value of play Any analysis of the distinctive features of play inevitably questions why this behaviour is important. Play enables children to try out their ing in the majority world for example, Liu-Yan environments and develop a wide repertoire and Feng-Xiaoxia , Woodhead , Nyota of responses to the situations they create.
The and Mapara But this perspective may not key feature is the flexibility of responses, and Understandings of play while other forms of behaviour may contribute ronment. Play operates as a calibrating The central adaptive value of play appears or mediating mechanism for emotions, motor to rest with calibrating emotional processes systems, stress response and attachment systems to the unexpected events that are intro- Spinka et al. The ability to regulate Pellis As Pellis and Pellis ity through rigid and stereotypical behaviour demonstrate from their studies of patterns Sutton-Smith The ability to animal play fighting, play may prepare the create a virtual reality offers the chance for ground for producing subtle and nuanced excitement and enjoyment through temporary responses to novel and unpredictable envi- suspension of the limits of the real world.
This ronments, which can be carried forward in in itself becomes a self-reinforcing process, one development, maintaining resilience and in which motivation and reward work in a con- the ability to deal with disturbance. To develop this discussion, we need to consider briefly the concepts of survival, resilience and Development, or the process of growth through well-being.
These complex and interrelated change, involves the concerted actions of themes have multiple interpretations and con- genes, cells, organs, bodies and environment to testations Boyden and Mann , Ungar ; enable organisms to best fit their local habitats. Play requires players to know that what they are engaging in is not real. These in everyday life Vellacott The ability rituals and cultural expressions, by necessity, to respond to disturbances is robust if basic are often routine, predictable and repetitive; human adaptive systems are protected and in children will initiate play using established con- good working order.
However, if these major ventions. This safe frame allows the graduated systems are impaired, there is a reduction of introduction of pleasurable and exciting dis- openness and adaptive capability, with a subse- turbance, disorder, and uncertainty that require quent impact on well-being Masten These are offers the possibility to enhance adaptive the essence of play.
They may even be a mirror capabilities and resilience. This idea is developed further in Smith 60 to ensure the best chance of the following sections. Play as self-protection The playful connections children make with between mind, body and environment is each other and with the environment open up inevitably complex.
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The thing is possible. This external behaviour is limitations of this paper mean that a full con- matched with an internal connection process; sideration is impossible; we can only present a novelty of wiring potential in brain circuits. This animal research. For example, playful rats have inevitably introduces the problems of reduc- significantly elevated levels of brain-derived tionism and essentialism, the very things that neurotrophic factor BDNF , recognised to have we contest through this paper. Our intention is a central role in developing and maintaining to extend some of the narrow ways of looking neural plasticity Gordon et al.
These changes maintain a disposition to the world a configuration of mind, body and The importance of play in enhancing adaptive systems To consider the importance of play and its relationship to adaptive systems, we separate our findings into a number of headings to present them more easily. In this, they drew up a list of maintaining a playful disposition. This pleasure beneficial for human functioning, leading to arises from the ability of children, for the time broadened repertoires of thought and action; and space of play, to be in control of being out being in a positive emotional state increases the of control Gordon and Esbjorn-Hargens Feelings of joy and pleasure are associated with more flexible This agency is expressed in diverse ways: for and open responses to situations and with example the creation of imaginary and material effective problem-solving, self-control, forward- worlds, climbing trees, the pleasure and excite- looking thinking and caution in dangerous ment of chasing and being chased, and hiding situations Isen and Reeve They represent fleeting moments of exuberant incongruity, The display of positive emotions is also likely to a sophisticated form of novelty that gives rise build enduring resources, in particular through to changing perceptual and conceptual frame- developing strong social relationships Holder works.
This tends to work in a selfreinforcing cycle: as social interactions increase, Children enjoyed bending their knees, lifting so too will the shared experience of happiness.
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This was one of the favorite activities ous laughter suggest that it both broadens inter- that brought smiles or laughter to the pro- actions and builds increasing social attachments ducer of the activity as well as to the partner and bonds Gervais and Wilson , Martin of the activity Loizou Laughter activates the pleasure regions of the brain and These playful expressions may not always be induces positive states in those laughing, and evidenced by outward signs of pleasure, as dra- also arouses positive emotions in those watch- matic and tense elements are injected into such ing Pellis and Pellis This gives rise to an underlying emotional stress and negative experiences Silk et al.
Children who are more prone to seek out and enjoy rewarding experiences may find sources of joy and happi- Play as self-protection ness in otherwise adverse social contexts. This concentrate because of thinking about optimism and sense of hope is not an idealis- finishing my homework but sometimes tic, utopian vision for the future, but rather a I am forced to stop playing so that I may representation of the ways in which children finish my homework to avoid punishment approach their everyday lives.
The contention is that the openness to the world, to create and take distinctive features of play support emotional advantage of environmental resources flexibility. This suggests that the designed as front line survival mechanisms opposite of play is not work but a lack of play. While archaic primary ships and strong attachments, and difficulties in emotions are fixed responses, the cortical and sustaining positive emotions when experienced subcortical regions are enormously plastic and Forbes and Dahl It Sutton-Smith Play offers the offers the opportunity to express primary emo- opportunity to develop and try out a range tions as long as they are substantially control- of responses without serious consequences.
For example, in rough and tumble play there is a balancing act between primary and second- Stress response systems ary emotions. Many people anger, through a range of framing actions that understand stress as a negative or harmful expe- give the message this is play rather than aggres- rience, but not all stress is necessarily damaging; sion. This requires establishing basic routines indeed the absence of any form of stress is likely that are recognised as non-confrontational. This leads stress response systems when the stress is of to the fine-tuning of emotional responses Pellis moderate intensity Pellis and Pellis In and Pellis The others and adjust their own actions in response.