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Game plan: An expert’s guide on how to encourage teenagers to play and have fun

We all need play in our lives — including our teens, as it plays an important role in their growth and development. Psychotherapist Joanna Fortune outlines how to engage with young people through fun

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Play is not a box of toys or a sequence of activities, but rather a state of mind and a way of being. Picture posed

Play is not a box of toys or a sequence of activities, but rather a state of mind and a way of being. Picture posed

Joanna Fortune. Photo by Firechild Photography

Joanna Fortune. Photo by Firechild Photography

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Play is not a box of toys or a sequence of activities, but rather a state of mind and a way of being. Picture posed

Play continues to serve an important role in teenagers’ emotional development during adolescence. When they are afforded the opportunity — and indeed encouraged by their parents and other important adults in their lives — to engage in play, adolescents show evidence of higher levels of self-esteem, stronger self-efficacy and independence skills, and are better (emotionally) resourced to hold higher levels of resilience.

I am often asked if it is really possible to play with our teenagers and my answer is always a resounding yes. Not only is it possible, it is imperative in nurturing the surge in growth and brain development in this stage of childhood.


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