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Stevanne Auerbach Headshot

Rx for Adult Play Year Round

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Want to have more fun over the holidays and into the new year? Then find more time in your busy life to be more playful and learn how to increase your PQ (Play Quotient). This concept was created when I wrote my book, Smart Play Smart Toys: How to Raise a Child With a High PQ.

Balance your energy during the holiday season (or any time). Take time out (and away from the overload of electronics) for plenty of non-tech play time interspersed in your daily activities.

We know that play is not only good for children, but also it's beneficial for playful people of all ages. It's a way to a healthier, stronger body; and playful activities stimulate the mind and help to expand creativity.

Play can help reduce stress, increase joy, keeps us feeling good and laughing; and most beneficial of all, it helps us to better connect with each other, and to be more in touch with ourselves.

We know that children learn best when they are playing. And the best part is that principle applies to adults, too. When you approach a task in a relaxed, playful way, it's easier and less stressful to focus and learn whatever is needed.

In my book, I suggest that one of the most useful things parents should know is that they are their child's first "big toy." Interacting playfully with baby, toddlers and preschoolers provides gentle stimulation, and produces positive spontaneous responses. The basic play experiences benefit both the child and the adults.

Adults of any age can grab a Frisbee, find some open place, and toss it around with some friends. Or you can fly a kite. You don't have to wait for a "kite festival" to launch your kite upward. You also don't have to wait until the gym opens; just get going with your very own "custom made" play time.

Wondering where to find fun places for play? There are perfect places all around us. There are plenty of open spaces to engage in many different playful activities. Trek over to any local park for more outdoor fun for you, your friends, and the whole family.

There are a wide range of excellent toys, games and amusing playthings at local stores, museums, and gift shops. Keep your favorite play equipment close by and take time for diversified active play. For more cerebral play, there are a variety of board and other games, puzzles, science kits, and construction toys of all kinds so you can use your creativity to build something new and enjoy a change of pace.

Playing games together is one of the best ways to gather for fun over the holidays. There's a lot of learning that goes on with games, from learning the rules, to taking turns, to learning to win or lose gracefully. Playing games reduces stress and offers a whole new experience for social time with friends. Have fun sharing the experience of playing in a new way.

Share the nostalgia of playing with a toy you played with and enjoyed as a kid. There are many classic favorites to select like Colorforms, Etch A Sketch, Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, puppets, dolls, teddy bears, Pick Up Sticks, Jacks and Ball, trains, collectible cars, and, of course, Play-Doh (which is a handy and simple way to exercise your fingers from too much texting).

You will find these and a lot more classic favorites when you go exploring for gifts. Find a special item that was something you always wanted as a child, and then put it on your desk or a table. It's a great way to add to your own personal enjoyment over the holiday season, plus you will have a terrific conversation starter for friends who will recognize your special toy, and then tell you all about theirs. They may then do the same thing -- a great way to satisfy that urge we all share to rekindle nostalgic childhood memories.

Of course, there's always a cardboard box that can be transformed into something new and creative.

Whatever you select to play with, make it a great opportunity to learn something new, be more creative, and take ample time to relax, and experience more joyful play times.

© 2012 Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, Dr. Toy, San Francisco, CA.

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