Pediatricians should prescribe PLAY! (not meds)

Apr 24, 2020

In this episode of Play Therapy Parenting®, Dr. Brenna discusses how the American Academy of Pediatrics published their “best of” 2019 journal articles, and one of the studies explores prescribing PLAY to combat all the stress, busyness, and anxiety that kids are experiencing these days. This is something Play Therapists have known for over 100 years! It’s nice to see the medical/pediatrics community acknowledging the benefits of play for kids.
listen on apple podcasts
listen on google podcasts

Podcast Transcript

Hi, I’m Dr Brenna Hicks, The Kid Counselor.
In this video, I want to share with you absolutely fascinating and exciting research that I just read about. The American Academy of Pediatrics just released their best of pediatrics Journal articles from 2019.

In other words, they publish articles all year long for 2019 and they compiled the best articles that had the most impact on readers.

And I feel that’s important to clarify that the people reading the Pediatrics Journal would be doctors, physicians, people in the medical field.

So the American Academy of Pediatrics released this report, and it was published in their best of 2019. And it says that Children are so over-scheduled, they’re so stressed, they have so much going on, and they’re struggling so much with their mental and physical health, pediatricians are being encouraged to prescribe play!

As a play therapist, that is so incredibly exciting for me because I feel that I am constantly, one child, one family at a time, fighting the fight against pediatricians prescribing medications and providing diagnoses when play is the antidote to almost every concern or struggle that a child has when they’re growing up.

So to see that doctors, pediatricians, and people that work with Children in a medical setting are actually being told to prescribe play, it makes me so happy!

I’m sure you can tell this is incredible news for me, and here’s why. It just reinforces and further corroborates everything that I believe about play.

The study is very long. The report is very long, so I’ll summarize for you. But in short, it basically says it [play] influences the brain. It influences academic success. It influences social skills. It influences the ability to reason and to problem solve. It influences their making sense of a problem and figuring out hypothetically how it might work in reality. And every single thing that I say to parents in my consultations about why play therapy works and why it is so helpful in building a healthy, happy foundation within your child.

This report from the Pediatrics Foundation is now saying exactly the same thing. That study after study shows how important play is. They enlarged that to individual play, play with a parent, play with a peer, individual play, collaborative play, every type of play.

But they actually are encouraging parents and doctors to write in and schedule playtime each day.

In other words, you have your schedule. All of our lives are busy. We have school and we have music lessons and we have baseball and we have church and we have all these things. So schedule is crazy. Schedule is busy.

They’re saying it is important enough, and it is beneficial enough that it actually needs to be scheduled for your child to have uninterrupted playtime.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the stories. Schools are taking away recess. Schools are preventing Children from going outside and playing like they used to.

What it said in the article was, only 51% of kids go outside and walk or play after school. That’s one in two. So half of the Children in this country sit inside or are scheduled somewhere else and not able to go outside and play.

So pediatricians are now encouraged and expected to prescribe play.

So get ahead of your next child’s well visit. When the pediatrician might tell you to prescribe play for your child, go ahead and make that a normal, consistent part of your childs life.

It benefits them in every way: they sleep better, they function better, they relate better, they communicate better, they excel academically, socially. Everything about their lives are better when they are given the opportunity to play. I know that I believe it. I teach it. But now the American Association of Pediatrics is agreeing with me.

I’m so excited to share that with you. Make play a big part of your kid’s life. It changes them for the better, and therefore your family is better for it.

Thank you so much for watching. See you again soon.

Cochran, N., Nordling, W., & Cochran, J. (2010). Child-Centered Play Therapy (1st ed.). Wiley.
VanFleet, R., Sywulak, A. E., & Sniscak, C. C. (2010). Child-centered play therapy. Guilford Press.
Landreth, G. L. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (2nd ed.). Brunner-Routledge.
Bratton, S. C., Landreth, G. L., Kellam, T., & Blackard, S. R. (2006). Child parent relationship therapy (CPRT) treatment manual: A 10-session filial therapy model for training parents. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
Benedict, Helen. Themes in Play Therapy. Used with permission to Heartland Play Therapy Institute.

Subscribe to The Kid Counselor Family email to get a FREE “Birth Order” Workshop

Birth Order: How it Affects Your Child’s Personality

Subscribe to the email newsletter today and get INSTANT ACCESS to a video-recorded workshop I conducted on this topic.

You’ll learn:

  • The hidden influences of birth order on personality traits
  • How birth order impacts your child’s relationships and success
  • Practical strategies for leveraging birth order dynamics in parenting

Subscribe now and take the first step towards understanding and nurturing your child’s unique personality!

Get Brenna’s Latest Book

Device Detox: A Parent’s Guide To Reducing Usage, Preventing Tantrums, And Raising Happier Kids.

Device Detox Book

“Dr. Brenna Hicks does an excellent job of sketching the problem, but the book shines brightest when Dr. Hicks offers a suite of practical, evidence-based strategies for coping with screen overuse in children. A valuable book that deserves to be read by parents everywhere.”


New York Times bestselling author of IRRESISTIBLE and DRUNK TANK PINK