Paloma Faith Swears By Pretend Play As A Way To Deal With Difficult Feelings – For Adults And Kids

The singer tells HuffPost UK that "while you’re playing and learning, you’re also in a form of therapy".
British singer and actress Paloma Faith teams up with the Lego Group to mark World Play Day.
The Lego Group
British singer and actress Paloma Faith teams up with the Lego Group to mark World Play Day.

Paloma Faith has opened up about how pretend play can help children express themselves when they struggle to find the words to explain what they’re going through.

It’s something the Only Love Can Hurt Like This singer feels passionately about – and she even acknowledges how being playful herself has helped her through trauma.

The singer and actress spoke exclusively with HuffPost UK ahead of World Play Day (October 12). “My children don’t necessarily have an emotional language yet to express themselves,” she said.

“Learning how to navigate and deal with feelings or social situations has been difficult, but by playing pretend, I’ve found that they are able to express themselves.”

It’s one of the reasons why Faith has teamed up with toy brand The Lego Group to raise awareness of the ways that incorporating play into our daily lives can improve wellbeing and connection.

She suggested that through play, “we learn a lot. A lot about ourselves, about what we’re capable of, the idea of possibility, thinking things into existence. There are so many layers to it because while you’re playing and learning, you’re also in a form of therapy because play can be escapism and can give you perspective.”

And it’s important for adults, too. Although play might look a little different in later life. The singer – who is set to bring out a new album in spring which touches upon her split from artist Leyman Lahcine, who she shares two children with – said being a playful person has got her through “so much trauma”.

“I think it’s really important when times are hard to not get bogged down in all of that and still leave room for mucking about or playing,” she added.

The Lego Group

Unfortunately, research from The Lego Group suggests fewer children are spending time playing each week. On average, children in the UK spend 2% of their week playing. What’s more, 70% of parents choose achievement-based activities for their children over simple playtime.

To help those of all ages find the joy in playtime, the toy brand has launched a series of playful initiatives. This week, The Lego Group Superpower Academy in London is open and free for families from October 12-18, while selected stores across the UK and Europe will be handing out free play mission packs today.

Faith said: “I’ve always valued the importance of play – from when I was really young to every day in my career now. Growing up, I used my imagination to build a world full of possibilities and endless excitement.

“That’s why imagination is my superpower, and it’s something I encourage my children to explore in their everyday lives.”

Why is playtime so important?

Dr Sara Baker, Professor of Developmental Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge, believes play can “supercharge a child’s future”.

“Through play, children develop essential skills such as communication, confidence, teamwork and creativity that enhance every other area of their development, learning and growth,” she said.

“And play doesn’t need to take up too much time, it can be as simple as singing a song on the way to school or making up a new ending to your favourite bedtime story together.”

How to make play a bigger part of your day

To help families share more playful moments of joy, Dr Barker shared her top five tips for including more play in the day:

  • Play can be found in the simplest of activities, whether it’s a little dance while brushing teeth or using a bus ride to spot as many things beginning with a letter as you can.
  • Don’t overthink it. There is no right or wrong way to play – anything that is enjoyable will be benefiting the whole family.
  • Find a good play mix. Try a range of playful activities to keep children entertained and help them develop a wide set of skills – from puzzles to singing or being active outside – everything helps.
  • Let your child take the lead. Kids have the most amazing imaginations, so if you are lacking for play ideas, turn to them and let their creativity run wild.
  • Use what you have around you. Walking back from school? How about a game of hopscotch on the pavement. In the car for a long journey? Start a game of I Spy.