As adults, when we become frustrated, angry, upset, excited, or nervous, we often talk through these feelings with others, or even in our own minds. You may use a journal to write about the situation and help yourself think more clearly. However, children have not yet developed these coping skills. They may not have the words to express how they’re feeling or know how to describe it. Their emotions are often displayed through behavior and actions. Sometimes these behaviors are undesirable or disruptive.
Play therapy offers a way for children to express themselves in a safe, comfortable environment through something they enjoy – playing. It is a natural medium and can lend itself to all types of communication. During play therapy, your child may be able to choose from multiple types of toys to play with, ranging from trucks and dolls to puzzles and blocks. The therapist may start by observing what they choose and how they interact with these toys before engaging in side-by-side play or asking questions. They create a trusting environment where your child feels safe opening up.
Through these interactions, the therapist can get to know your child and better understand the challenges they are dealing with. Why they’re acting out or having trouble following directions. Then, play is used to reinforce more positive behaviors and communication. It can be used as way of practicing sharing or socialization, taking turns, or following directions. Children may not even realize that they’re working and learning because it takes place in an enjoyable way.
Through engaging with different toys and objects, children can develop better problem solving and communication skills. They can learn more appropriate ways to express their thoughts and feelings that others can understand. They may use drawings, puppets, make-believe, or clay to act out different situations and work through challenges. These same strategies can be used at home as well. Parents can encourage children to use what they have learned to improve socialization or explain what is troubling them.
Play therapy has many benefits and is a wonderful way to connect with your child on their level and in terms they can understand. It can alleviate stress and allow them to open up in creative ways. They may not know how to put their feelings into words when asked, but through play, these thoughts can be expressed. Play therapy can be a wonderful tool for reducing outbursts and undesirable behaviors, improving communication, enhancing problem solving, learning to follow directions or share, and building routine. PediaPlex makes play therapy an enjoyable yet therapeutic and educational activity for children and their families.
Is your child struggling with outbursts or following directions? Find out how play therapy at PediaPlex can help.