THE BLOG
07/22/2013 12:08 pm ET Updated Sep 20, 2013

Dr. Toy on Power of Play and Expanding Play for Everyone

Want to have more fun and expand energy and increase your zest for life? It's a good idea and helpful for everyone.

Then find more time in your busy life to be more playful and learn how to increase your "PQ" (Play Quotient) the measure of playfulness.

Balance your energy anytime) and take time out (and away from electronics) for plenty of playtime interspersed in your daily activities.

We know that play is not only good for children, but it's also beneficial for playful people of all ages. It's a great way to be healthier, strengthen the body; Plus playful activities stimulates the mind, and expands creativity.

Play has many essential benefits. It reduces stress, increases joy, and keeps us laughing; most beneficial of all, it helps us to better connect with each other, and to be more in touch with ourselves.

Children learn best when they are playing. One of the most useful things parents need to know is they are their child's first "big toy;" interacting playfully with baby, toddlers and preschoolers provides gentle stimulation, and produces positive spontaneous responses.

Students and other adults can also grab a Frisbee, and locate a place to toss it with some friends; or find a kite and go fly it. You don't have to wait for a "Kite Festival" to launch your kite upwards, or wait until the gym opens to get up and go to create your very own custom made playtime.

Wondering where to find fun places for play?

Spaces for play are all around us with outdoor recreational areas, parks and backyards.

Look for favorite active playthings like Frisbee, balls, jump ropes, hula hoops. Also for mind play search for a variety of board games, puzzles, and science kits. For creative play search for a range of construction toys of all kinds so your child and you can use your own creativity to build something new.

But also don't forget the crayons, the finger paints and the Play Doh.

Playing board games together is one of the best ways to gather and have fun. There's a lot of learning that goes on with games, from learning the rules, to taking turns and learning to win and lose gracefully.

Parents and grandparents can have fun and share the nostalgia of playing with the kids with a toy they played with and enjoyed as a kid.

Yes, there are still many classic favorites to select like Colorforms, Etch a Sketch, Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, puppets, teddy bears, Pick up Sticks, Jack and Ball, jump rope and Cabbage Patch dolls. You will find these and a lot more favorites when you explore for gifts.

Find a special item that was something you always wanted as a child and put it on your desk or on a chair or table. It's a great way to add to your own fun and it will provide a terrific conversation starter for friends who will recognize your special toy and then tell you about theirs. There is certain to be laughter and joyful memories as a result of sharing.

Parents will find many new ways that toys can benefit their child as for example if they look for activity kits that provide opportunities to make something, or science kits that help children learn, or a construction set or puzzles they can play with alone, with friends or with parents or grandparents.

Of course, there is always the simplicity of the cardboard box that can be transformed into something new and creative like the puppet theatre or play store.

Whatever you select to do, make it a great optimal opportunity to learn something new, be creative, and remember to take plenty of time every day for playful fun, and to enjoy and remember to increase your PQ. The more you play the more playful you are, and your PQ expands.

Finally let's recall George Bernard Shaw's reminder:

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, known as Dr. Toy, selects and evaluates toys for Dr. Toy Best Products award programs. Dr. Auerbach, author of three books on toys, writes about toys and products for Dr. Toy's Guide, www.drtoy.com. Her book, *Smart Play/Smart Toys: How to Raise a Child with a High P.Q. - Play Quotient, is published in 13 countries. See also her new App -- Dr. Toy's Gift Guide.