It must be of value … to be constantly reminded … of what we owe to the natural and universal thing called playing. D. W. Winnicott
Judging from the way all primates care for their newborns and young; we—humans—have probably recognized, understood, and appreciated—since the dawn of our species—that protective nurturing along with playful care and attention are required for normal healthy development.
It is interesting that only relatively recently has the nature, depth, strength, and impact of the relationship between parent or caregiver and newborns and the capacity of newborns to communicate and establish and maintain relationships been recognized, studied, explained, and appreciated.
John Bowlby was the first to explain the similarity between the way ducks and geese imprint and attach and the way infants do something similar. Ducks and geese imprint to the first large creature, some research suggests the first moving object, they experience during a critical, relatively short, period after hatching. And humans similarly form strong attachment bonds to a parent or caregiver during the first year of life that he called the attachment system.
Bowlby published Attachment in 1969. Since publication, the attachment system he identified and described has been thoroughly studied by scores, perhaps better hundreds, of researchers.
What emerges from this research is that our early relationships and the nature and attunement, the playfulness and connection, of the communication during the early years sets patterns of relationship behavior. For many these patterns of behavior persist into adulthood and throughout life. Also, these patterns, set early in life, for many enhance, for others limit, the ability to build, repair, and maintain healthy, committed relationships in adulthood.
Still other research, a great deal conducted at the National Institutes of Health, supports the role of our interpersonal relationships in regulating the levels of important neuro-chemicals in our body and brain. These neuro-chemicals, controlled in part by aspects of our interpersonal relationships, affect our emotional and physical health. They regulate everything from our mood to our immune system.
What does all this have to do with Relationship Games?
Coaches, counselors, and therapists, in ever growing numbers, are accepting that emotional change, growth and healing (and aspects of our physical health as well) occur in our interpersonal relationships. That our happiness, connection with others, and success in everyday life, like the outcome of coaching, counseling, and therapy, develops and is determined in large part by the quality of the interpersonal relationships we build and maintain.
Just as it is the creativity of shared playing in our early relationships that is important in healthy early development, it is the creativity of shared playing in adult life that makes change, growth, and healing possible.
Relationship games for kids, teens, couples, and families are designed to facilitate sharing in shared play. And it is from the creative sharing in shared play that something more emerges that makes change, growth, and healing possible; builds connection and deepens and strengthens commitment–improving relationships.
Emotional health, happiness, and well-being then are to be found and realized in the attuned play and playfulness we experience in our relationships throughout life. And the attuned play and playfulness that is possible playing relationship games serve so many so well in the quest for emotional health, happiness, and well-being.
Learn more about relationship games reading other posts and find more links at Relationship Games Info.
If you have played a relationship game, consider sharing your experience in a comment below.
There are relationship games for kids as young as 3, for teenagers, for a group of up to 4 couples, for one couple, and for families.