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What do children make of this Corona world and how might they react? Insights from Bob Hughes, author of A Taxonomy of Play Types

PPE, virus, deaths today, masks, Nightingale Hospital, Critical Care, stay at home, respirators, coughs, clapping for the NHS, Lockdown, oxygen., overwhelming, wash your hands, Corona, mass graves, peaks and plateau, anti-body  …………………………….what do children make of this, how might they react?

For one thing, they are playing in doors, and while numbers of reported accidents outside are falling, accidents indoors are going through the roof. One report states that self-harming (self harming!!!!) in children has risen by almost 500%

These are difficult times for us all especially medical staff, but spare a thought too for parents looking after children. The lockdown will affect us all, the way we see and interact with the world may well change, but parents bringing up children in what is after all a claustrophobic mini-world have a particular problem. They feel they have to entertain their kids, keep them busy and absorbed, but that is not always easy or straightforward. Add to that the scientific reality that children need play which is free of those adulterating influences to be mentally healthy and adaptive, and you have a biological tug of war in the home. The children pulling one way and parents often pulling the other.

No wonder there are more accidents, which may perhaps get even more numerous and extreme the more this lockdown goes on.

One suggestion is that parents ‘cool-it’  with entertaining their children. It isn’t their job anyway, it’s natures. Perhaps leave the children to find their own level and deal with this situation in their own way. Human children have been doing that in periods of great change for millennia. Better surely to have a non-interfering, and non-neurotic parent around , than have one who is literally at their wits end.

And as for the children, with less pressure to ‘behave’, maybe they will be more able to calibrate their surroundings and hurt themselves less. That way, everybody wins.

Blog by Bob Hughes. 20 April 2020.

Bob Hughes is a lifelong advocate for free play and play as a fundamental and essential part of human development. His book A Taxonomy of Play Types  lists 16 types of play that children will experience in their play development. He has been enormously influential for the development of play theory and playwork.

A list of his books and reports is available at:

 PlayEducation, which Bob leads came into being in 1982.  Since then PlayEducation has provided cutting edge play and playwork training and education for playworkers, childcare and early years workers, environmentalists, scientific professionals, architects and parents in locations as diverse as Northern Ireland, Germany, Japan, Wales, USA, Scotland, Argentina, England, Hong Kong, Australia, the Republic of Ireland and Portugal.

Bob is patron of Islington Play Association and still speaks, argues for and thinks about play. A lot.

(1) Comment

  1. April Murray says:

    WOW, powerful words and True meaning makes me think how vunrable our children are and how much they need to be out playing and socialising with friends, making happy memories to make them grow, and develop through play.

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