Animal Emotions

Do animals think and feel?

Why We All Need To Play

Let children be the animals they have the right to be

Last July I wrote an essay titled "Play, Play, and Play Some More: Let Children Be the Animals They Have the Right to Be." I had just had the pleasure of attending an incredible meeting called "Playing into the future - surviving and thriving". The major theme of this international gathering concerned the importance of play for children and how we can create a future where play is valued and where every country and neighborhood upholds every child's right for freedom and a safe enough environment for playing, as they should. Boundless inspiration came from about 450 delegates from 55 nations, including areas where children don't play because they're seriously ill, because their parents, families, or communities can't afford to allow them play because they have to work, or because there aren't any safe places to play. However, play is also severely curtailed in affluent areas throughout the world.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Now, Radio Netherlands Worldwide has just produced a show with a number of interviews on the importance of play. I think it's a worthwhile compilation of what is happening worldwide and why all animals must be allowed to play. We can also learn a lot from studying play in animals (see also and). 

I concluded my essay as follows: "There are many reasons why children need to play (see also), just as young animals need to play. We need free-ranging kids. They must be allowed to get dirty and learn to take risks and negotiate social relationships that might be complicated, unexpected, or unpredictable. I love the slogan of Play Wales, 'Better a broken bone than a broken spirit', attributed to Lady Allen of Hurtwood. We should all embrace it with all our heart."

 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

more...

Subscribe to Animal Emotions

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?