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(p. 167) Why Children Play 

(p. 167) Why Children Play
Chapter:
(p. 167) Why Children Play
Author(s):

Donald W. Winnicott

DOI:
10.1093/med:psych/9780190271343.003.0024
Page of

date: 21 January 2018

In this essay, Winnicott holds that children enjoy all physical and emotional play experiences. To some extent this is dealt with at the source, by the child’s accepting the discipline of expressing the aggressive feeling in play form and not just when angry. Whereas it is easy to see that children play for pleasure, it is much more difficult for people to see that children also play to master anxiety, or ideas and impulses that lead to anxiety if they are not in control. Winnicott asserts that anxiety is always a factor in a child’s play, often a major factor. Excess anxiety leads to compulsive play, repetitive play, or exaggerated seeking for the pleasures that belong to play; if anxiety is too great, play breaks down into pure exploitation of sensual gratification.

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