With this series of quotes on play, I’ve been showing the benefits of play, in learning, in creating, in meeting basic human needs. Today, we are looking at the opposite of play. Opposites are something we play with often around here. It’s great language development for little ones. Most commonly we talk about the opposite of hot is cold; the opposite of high is low; the opposite of tall (Daddy) is short (Mommy); the opposite of on is off. So in this simplistic list of opposites, what would be the easy opposite of play? Work? Except we know that play is a child’s work! So what’s the complex version of the opposite of play? Brian Sutton-Smith sums it up nicely.
The Opposite of Play
“The opposite of play is not a present reality, or work; it is vacillation; or worse, it is depression.”
As I considered how this could relate to the simple opposites we cover with little ones, one pair of opposites stuck out to me. The opposite of happy is sad. So if I’m happy when I play, then it’s easy to accept that when I’m not playing I’m sad. And this is SO true for our kids. When we ask them to stop their play to come in for dinner or to put on pajamas or to do homework, there is much sadness in our house! But to be deprived of play day after day, that fleeting sadness turns to depression.
So while it stretches my creativity and patience as a parent, I make games of every day tasks like getting dressed and cleaning up. Where my children initially see these tasks as interrupting their play, they become much more likely to participate in the task when it becomes a game. Hmmm, I think Mary Poppins had something going after all!
Do you agree that the opposite of play is depression? How do you convince your little one that the work they need to do can be play as well?