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Play as An Adult: 3 Ways Playing Like a Kid Makes Us Better Adults

Do you remember the last time you played? Play as an adult has so many benefits for us. Let’s explore!

Ah, childhood. The time when you didn’t have to worry about buying groceries or paying bills and biggest thing most of us worried about was the monster hiding under our beds.

While childhood was a lot of fun and games and early bedtimes, I have to say that I quite like being an adult. I like setting my own priorities, making my own plans, and deciding when it’s okay to have ice cream for breakfast for myself (the answer to that one is: always).

And yet, there are still so many wonderful things from childhood that we can benefit from as adults. When we grow up and become more responsible and have to focus on things like paying taxes, we forget how much fun we can have when we just let loose!

Not to mention, playing like a kid actually has a lot of benefits for us as adults.

Kidulting lets us embrace the nostalgic fun of childhood and have fun just for the joy of it!

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My book, The Kidult Handbook, has 160 activities, recipes, and games from childhood that underpin each of these reasons below. It’s full of inspiration and instructions on how to embrace childhood to be a better adult. Order your copy here!

There are so many benefits of play, especially adult play, that can impact our life. Embracing the power of play in your adult life can improve your mental health, social skills, optimism, well-being, and more. It’s important for people of all ages to embrace their inner child.

Dr. Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute for Play. Dr. Brown believes engaging in playful behavior and various types of play. Play can look like board games or a game of golf, it is primarily dependent on how each individual engages with an activity that determines whether or not it is play.

Play is internally driven and can come in the form of free play, structured play, and mixed-age play. It’s not necessarily about social interaction but about achieving a flow state.

Here are 3 ways playing like a kid makes you a better adult:

1. You’ll have better, stronger ideas.

Kids have very vivid imaginations. They see possibility where, as adults, we only tend to see potential hazards and red tape.

Playing out our little kid hearts and taking on new challenges like a physics competition against our coworkers or signing up for an improv class gets us out of our comfort zones and forces us to tap into often unused parts of our brains.

Doing so opens our minds and neural pathways up to see new and innovative solutions to problems. It also makes us more productive because we’re thinking more clearly.

In the book, I talk more in depth about the concept of a beginner’s mind and how we can benefit from it. You can do anything from word play, to pretend play to book play to incorporate play into your leisure time. Adult coloring books are also a way to

When we get caught up in the daily monotony, it’s easy to let ourselves stop innovating and learning. But if you keep it up as an adult? Well there’s no stopping you, kid.

2. You’ll be more confident.

Most young kids aren’t yet self-aware enough to care what other people think about them. They’re still learning how to behave in social situation and hold a conversation.

Us as adults, on the other hand, are a bit too aware of how others perceive us. All too often this thought creeps into our heads and keeps us from going after our dreams or something we really want to do. I say, no more of that!

Confidence comes from not only knowing that we can do something but knowing that we can try something and are allowed to fail at it.

There’s a tremendous amount of power in knowing that it’s okay if we aren’t good at something.

Playing like a kid lets you let go of those inhibitions and just have fun! You can take on new opportunities and challenges knowing that it’s okay if you’re not the best because no one expects you to be. Allow yourself to fail and you’ll have more confidence in no time!

You can start building up that confidence with the activities in Part 1 and Part 7 of the book.

Physical activities also help with confidence. They engage us in different ways and can not only improve our emotional intelligence but critical thinking skills as well.

Our adult play may not look like our childhood play, and that’s okay! The type of play doesn’t matter as much as actually playing.

3. You’ll be less stressed.

Playing like a kids means laughing your head off for hours over silly things. Laughter has been proven time and time again to be excellent medicine for relieving stress.

Not only does it allow for the release of endorphins (and we all know how powerful those are — thanks Elle Woods), but it also helps reduce inflammation throughout the body.

As play expert and psychiatrist Stuart Brown shares, engaging in play can help you manage stressful situations, improve your cognitive health, reduce your blood pressure, and more.

Of course, we can find things to laugh at any time — cute YouTube videos of puppies, anyone?

But why not take a chapter from the book and throw an awesome event for your friends and family that involves your favorite childhood snacks, games, and competitions (Part 4 or Part 5 is full of suggestions for exactly this purpose!). Go a step further and set up scavenger hunts for everyone to enjoy!

You’ll have an amazing time throwing back to your favorite childhood activities, making brand new memories with your best friends, and you’ll be way more relaxed at the end of it!

In Summary: Play as An Adult

The important of play as an adult can’t be understated. Being playful adults is a great benefit to our mental health.

The act of play is not just for young children or little kids. It is for everyone! A great way to engage in play is to try new things. One of the best ways is to do something you truly love.

Playing is not a waste of time. It’s actually critical for brain development and stress management.

The next time you find yourself stressed out, my recommendation is to try doing something that reminds you of a simpler time. When you’re less stressed, you’ll be more creative.

Plus, when you let go of the fear of failure, you’ll find that you have more confidence than you ever dreamed of. And all it takes? Just playing like a kid.

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.