The importance of play during a crisis

Let’s Play Ireland is a government-led initiative aimed at promoting play for all children living in Ireland during the COVID-19 emergency. They have some excellent resources available at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/lets-play-during-covid-19/ but here at Parent Hub Donegal we are going to post the individual articles to make them as accessible as possible for you. The first piece in on the importance of play during a crisis.

Playing is central to children’s physical, mental, social and emotional health and wellbeing. Children learn through play while developing resilience, flexibility and understanding of their world. Play in families enriches childhood. All children and young people have a right to play.

Play has never been more important, but during this time please follow the HSE advice on physical distancing and wash your hands. For more information go to hse.ie/coronavirus.

Playing helps children stay physically and mental well. It is an everyday part of a healthy and happy
childhood. Play is just as important during a crisis like the current coronavirus pandemic. It helps your child manage their emotions and maintain a sense that everything is and can be ok.
During a crisis, playing is your child’s way to:

  • stay emotionally healthy
  • stay physically active
  • getting some exercise
  • relax and forget about worries
  • make sense of any new experiences and changes in their world
  • cope with feelings that are difficult or frightening.

Playing at home

A great way for you to support the health, happiness and development of your child during the current crisis is to find ways they can play at home. Making time to play and have fun together is good for your relationship with your child and for your own mental well-being.

Playing can also protect your child from some of the negative impacts this crisis could have.
For example:

  • Playing is strongly linked to creativity – it involves imagination and problem solving.
  • Playing helps young children develop by doing and talking. It is also how they learn to think.
  • Playing may involve your child acting and repeating events – this is one way for them to understand what is happening.
  • Acting their feelings helps your child come to terms with them and feel more in control.
  • Playing allows your child to express anger and frustration safely without harming other people, or without getting harmed themselves.
  • Playing allows your child to develop their own strengths and ability to cope.

Being at home for long periods of time and being physically separated from friends, families, routines and cherished places is a new situation for most of us. Playing is a natural and active process that can help us.

You can download the original pdf here The importance of play during a crisis

You can find lots of information about play in a crisis on https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/lets-play-during-covid-19/ and on the International Play Association website here https://issuu.com/ipaworld/docs/ipa_play_in_crisis_supporting_parents_and_carers.

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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