“Play is the work of childhood.”
Jean Piaget, the famous child psychologist, captures the essence of curiosity and exploring with these six words.
Mr. Rogers expanded on this a bit, to further clarify: “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.”
When it comes to health, we must reach children by speaking to them in their language. We must reach them through play.
Through our work at Empath Labs, we’ve seen the immense power of play to transform healthcare experiences for children. We can reframe scary and stressful experiences by allowing children to play through simulations of what will be done to them. We can create positive behavioral associations with medication adherence by putting children in control of caring for a companion that is just like them. When we speak to children in their language we have the opportunity to fundamentally change the way they perceive their health and their care.
This extends far beyond the child, impacting the entire family. Play enables children to take on the perspective of their parents and caregivers. It allows children to understand that their parents are caring for them out of love, even when that means giving them injections or other scary medical procedures on a daily basis. One of the most common things we hear from families is that our products make conversations about care less stressful for parents and children alike.
Speaking the language of play creates an immense opportunity to help children build a solid foundation and positive associations with their care from the get-go.
So, why change behavior later on in life when we can form correct behaviors from the very beginning?
Let’s meet children where they play.