How Play Therapy can help my child?
Updated: Feb 10, 2020
What parents hope to see?
Improvement in behaviors that we can see: frequent tantrums like shouting, screaming, crying, hitting, throwing, pushing, whining, refusing to share, easily agitated, fights with siblings or peers, too clingy or dependent, self-harming, refusing to listen or follow instructions, unable to express verbally, too shy, short attention span, cannot focus, lack of motivation or drive, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, not willing to take up new challenges, under performing in academic and more.
We can teach or guide the child in his/her behaviors but if the underlying issues or emotions are not resolved, other behaviors may manifest at a later stage. Sometimes, it could be several issues or emotions building up and causing the child to get easily triggered on every single little thing.
What children need to work on?
To work on the underlying reason or emotion that causes the above behaviors: prior negative experiences, new family member, learned peer behaviors, high expectation of self, fear of being rejected, the need for perfection or even routine, comparison, the need for attention and/or affection, think and worried too much, adaptability to changes, attachment issues (relationship between infant and caregiver), anxiety, insecurity and more.
Children learn to resolve their issues and cope with their emotions through playing out in an accepting and permissive setting with a trained play therapist working alongside with them.
What play therapy does?
Play therapy provides a safe space for children to work on their issues through play (their language). In order for children to start working on their issues, they need to build trust with the play therapist and gain sense of security through the fixed day, time, location and number of play sessions.
How play therapy can help?
When children feel safe to go deeper, they are able to work on their underlying issues or emotions that's affecting them in their daily life through the negative behaviors.
Hunter came and all the animals went hiding, this could be a scenario that the child is playing out. After playing the same scenario for a few sessions, the child may say, oh, the hunter is not that scary after all. The hunter could be a projection of an adult role and child may be working on relationship building. Parent-child relationship improves after the play sessions.
Placing a monster on top of the toilet bowl for several sessions and stopped, child may be trying to cope with his/her fears. Child is willing to try using the toilet bowl despite of his/her phobia.
Crawling on all fours during the play session, child may be playing out attachment issues which can be way back to infancy stage. Playing out can help the child to rewire his/her neural pathways that regulate the emotions, thoughts and reactions by replacing the negative experiences with the positive ones.
Wants to win or have his/her turn all the time, child starts to allow the therapist to win or take turn once or twice. Child may be developing empathy for others, learning to take turns or coping with losing in a game.
Play therapy is not a quick fix, it takes time for children to develop trust and security before diving right into the issue or emotion therefore commitment is required. Child may choose to work on issue or emotion that's affecting them the most thus there might not be immediate progress in the behaviors. Or the behaviors had improved but the child may still be working on other issue or emotion. Every child is different thus we will give suggestions to parents on what to do at home according to what we see in the playroom.
Keen to find out more, book an appointment or to discuss on collaboration, chat with us today.
- Adelyn Lee, Accredited Play Therapist and Founder of Pandora Box Play Therapy