The Inbox

Child psychologist stresses importance of play

Honey Carandang. Photo by Rosa CalimonBy Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

"Play lightens one's load."

Somehow that sentence in English doesn't quite approximate this almost heartbreaking statement of a child of an overseas Filipino worker who deeply misses a parent: "Pag naglalaro, gumagaang ang loob (Playing lightens the feelings)."

Clinical psychologist Ma. Lourdes "Honey" Carandang is a pioneer of play and family therapy in the Philippines. She  heads the MLAC Institute for Children and Families, an association that strongly advocates play therapy.

With her MLAC team of psychologists, Carandang has conducted many parenting workshops in the barangay level, especially in a big child-friendly city like Quezon City.

She has noticed that when it comes to activities regarding children's rights, "the participation of kids is token only."

"Adults don't seem to listen to them on where they can play.They don't realize why play is essential to children," she shared some of her observations.

She said adults should know that "If they (children) cannot play, there's something wrong."

She related she has dealt with a child so traumatized he couldn't play because he was being beaten up by his father. In another case, the child saw the mother killed by the father.

When the patient starts to play, the child is on his way to healing. The ability to play shows a child's resiliency.

Carandang, a psychology professor at the University of the Philippines, explained: "Nobody can teach them that. It's natural for them, it's their way of being and coping whether they come from the low-income or high-income class. Not only will this make them happy, it is essential for normal development."

There are ambitious parents who drive their children to excel, scheduling their kids' after-school activities every hour so the child ends up both hurried and harried.

Carandang, who has been named National Social Scientist, said she had a patient who used to be tutored until 9 p.m., began to lose weight and looked very sad. She warned the parents that the child was headed towards depression.

"Our culture seems to dictate that even with our free time, we should do something useful and productive. I don't agree with over-scheduling. A child needs space to be or he/she will be unhappy and lose childhood," she said.

In her workshops with poor families, she noted how open they were about their questions and their families' conditions.

Contrary to what  others told them  that to get their attention, they should  bring rice and sugar, the poor families  were eager to discuss beyond things that fill the stomach.

"They're used to hardships. They're appreciative of our workshops.They are eager to know how to have happy family, the best way to discipline their children," Carandang said.

Asked how busy parents can manage children who prefer television or computer games to real play, Carandang said the American Psychological Association has brought out a term called 'Internet addiction' that is similar to any addiction where a person can get a high. The games are well-constructed, leaving the child hungry for more to improve the self. There's something about it in the way you win and lose that makes the child not want to give it up.

The MLAC Institute, which is at an advocacy stage, believes that adults can do something about this latest addiction by setting limits.

"We have that power to set limits," Carandang said. "Some people give up too easily, but they must make the effort to understand what makes computer games attractive to children."

She said parents must realize that children still need their attention. Otherwise, children may resort to actions that are unexplainable to parents like the son of a rich father who stole something in school.

Carandang said unconsciously the child chose a behavior that was a meaningful, effective way to get the father's attention. After consulting with her, the father learned to spend quality time every week with his son.

Quality time is predictable and regular. It requires the parent's full attention, thus ensuring emotional security.

Play therapy is not only for children. Carandang said she has gotten requests from adults to do play therapy workshops for male executives in Guam. The executives are burning out, losing their creativity due to pressure to produce and to work.

She  cited as example Google, the multi-national internet research  company, which allows  employees flexibility in their work schedule. They take breaks to swim or goof around.

Carandang said to many, taking time to relax during office hours  may be called lakwatsa (idling), but play is essential for adults to replenish creative juices.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

  • Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet
    Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet

    When the first Earth Day was held in 1970, geologists were still putting the finishing touches on plate tectonics, the model that explains how the Earth's surface takes shape. For today's Earth day, here are some of Earth's biggest unsolved mysteries. Scientists think Earth was a dry rock after it coalesced 4.5 billion years ago. But the beginnings of Earth's water are shrouded in mystery because so little rock evidence remains from this time period. …

  • What Your Sleeping Style Reveals About Your Relationship
    What Your Sleeping Style Reveals About Your Relationship

    Are you a creative person stuck in an unhappy relationship? Your preferred sleeping position may reveal the answers to these questions, and other secrets about your personality and relationship. In a survey, 1,000 people reported their preferred sleeping positions, and also gave information about their personalities and relationship quality. "I think it just underlines the point that the night is not downtime," said study researcher Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of …

  • VB's 'awkward meeting with Mel B'
    VB's 'awkward meeting with Mel B'

    Victoria Beckham was reportedly blanked by Mel B at a recent workout session. …

  • Lindsay Lohan reveals miscarriage on finale of OWN series
    Lindsay Lohan reveals miscarriage on finale of OWN series

    Actress Lindsay Lohan has revealed she suffered a miscarriage during the filming of Oprah Winfrey's OWN network documentary series chronicling the former child star's life after rehab. "No one knows this - and we can finish after this - but I had a miscarriage for those two weeks that I took off," the 27-year-old actress said in Sunday's finale of the "Lindsay" series, saying that was the explanation for her missing some of her filming commitments. …

  • Russia writes off 90 percent of North Korea debt, eyes gas pipeline
    Russia writes off 90 percent of North Korea debt, eyes gas pipeline

    Russia's parliament has agreed to write off almost $10 billion of North Korea's Soviet-era debt, in a deal expected to facilitate the building of a gas pipeline to South Korea across the reclusive state. Russia has written off debts to a number of impoverished Soviet-era allies, including Cuba. North Korea's struggling communist economy is just 2 percent of the size of neighbouring South Korea's. The State Duma lower house on Friday ratified a 2012 agreement to write off the bulk of North …

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet

    Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet

    LiveScience.com - 16 hours ago
    Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet

    When the first Earth Day was held in 1970, geologists were still putting the finishing touches on plate tectonics, the model that explains how the Earth's surface takes shape. For today's Earth day, here are some of Earth's biggest unsolved mysteries. Scientists think Earth was a dry rock after it coalesced 4.5 billion years ago. But the beginnings of Earth's water are shrouded in mystery because so little rock evidence remains from this time period. …

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    AFP News - 6 hours ago
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca …

  • Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound Solved

    Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound Solved

    LiveScience.com - 9 hours ago
    Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound Solved

    A mysterious duck-like sound recorded in the ocean around Antarctica has baffled scientists for decades, but the source of the sound has finally been found, researchers say. "In the beginning, no one really knew what it was," said Denise Risch, a marine biologist at NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass. Because the sound was so repetitive, scientists first thought it might be human-made, possibly coming from submarines. The noises also occur seasonally, and have been …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options