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  • Writer's pictureMme Paturel

Helping Kids with Depression and Anxiety: The Power of Play

Navigating Anxiety and Depression in kids:

A Look Back at 2010's Wake-Up Call



Rates of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents were far lower during the Great Depression... than they are today.

Hey there, beautiful souls! ✨


Today, I want to dive into a topic that's been on my heart, and it's one that's just as relevant today as it was back in 2010 when Dr. Peter Gray dropped some truth bombs in his article on the "Decline of Play and Rise in Children's Mental Disorders." (You can find the article here)


Can we just acknowledge the fact that even after all these years, the struggles are real, and with the added chaos of COVID, they've become even more pronounced? 😢


Gray's insights are like a time capsule, reminding us that the rates of anxiety and depression among our young ones have been on the rise for decades. 📈 It's not just about changing diagnostic criteria – this is a deep, societal shift.




Today, 5-8 times more students meet criteria for major depression." - Peter Gray  The culprit? The decline of unstructured play.


Picture this: a world where our kiddos are facing more pressure, more external judgments, and less intrinsic goals. It's like we've collectively taken a detour away from the things that truly matter for our children's well-being. 🌈


anxiety and depression are all caused largely by the decline ... In opportunities for free play.

One key player in this mental health drama? The decline of good old-fashioned play. Remember when kids used to roam free, exploring, learning, and problem-solving on their own? 🚀 Fast forward to today, where the playground has been replaced by structured activities and an overload of school-centric stress.


Gray suggests a connection between the rise in anxiety and depression and the shift from "intrinsic" to "extrinsic" goals. Our young ones are growing up in a world that bombards them with messages linking happiness to external achievements – grades, looks, status. Think of the most graduated children on Instagram and what their goals tend to be. It's like they're caught in a whirlwind of societal expectations. 😰

 increases in anxiety and depression are related to a shift f increases in anxiety and depression are related to a shift from "intrinsic" to "extrinsic" goals.rom "intrinsic" to "extrinsic" goals.

And then there's the schooling situation. 🏫 More hours, more tests, more pressure. The joy of learning is overshadowed by the pursuit of grades, and that's a real problem. The correlation between the rise of extrinsic goals and the decline of personal control is like a neon sign telling us to wake up and smell the coffee!


So, what's the alternative? How can we turn this ship around? 🚢 It's time to re-imagine education. Gray points us towards democratic schools and unschooling, where freedom, play, and self-directed exploration take center stage.


Lack of play increases Depression and Anxiety - Given freedom and opportunity, without coercion, young people educate themselves.


Imagine a world where kids aren't just educated but are empowered to educate themselves. 🌟 Where intrinsic values, personal self-control, and emotional well-being are not just side effects but the main event. It's a radical idea, but perhaps it's time to embrace it. Imagine where they can play, learn and their pace, feel a sense of control over their own lives... the rates of depression and anxiety would decrease.


depriving children of opportunities to play on their own, away from direct adult supervision and control, we are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives.

As we navigate the complexities of today's world, let's remember the lessons from 2010 and work towards creating a space where our kids can thrive mentally, emotionally, and creatively. 💖 Let's help kids with depression and anxiety, by just letting them be kids... letting them play!


Let's rewrite the narrative together.

Remember, you're doing an amazing job, and we're all in this journey called life together! 🌈✨


Sending you love and positive vibes,


- Mme Steph Paturel



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