Why Parents Should Consider Play Therapy
As a child develops they experience reactions and evaluations from the significant people in their life. Typically, they focus on adults, such as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and other important adult figures. However, peers and siblings play a role, too. Based on these reactions and evaluations children begin to develop their view of themselves- “I am good”, “I am bad”, “I am smart”, “I am stupid”, etc.
As kids start to view themselves through this lens they can begin to develop negative or positive behavioral, mental, physical, and emotional habits. Sometimes this will show up through how they interact with others- verbally or nonverbally, how they handle conflict or adversity, their work ethic- whether they keep trying or give up easily, and more.
In order for kids to begin to unpack negative perceptions and emotions, and change behavior and responses they need the space to do so. This happens through acceptance, time- however long is needed, and guidance. Once this happens then they can start to learn how to express themselves in a healthy way.
From a therapists perspective, kids’ behavior provides a glimpse of their internal and personal reality since they behave in a way that is congruent to how they view themselves. Therapists work hard to understand the child’s internal frame of reference, so they can help to shift that perspective toward a healthier place.
You might be asking how does this happen? Aren’t you just drawing or playing the whole time?
Giving your child an activity allows them to focus on something neutral and nonthreatening. It makes them feel more comfortable to share. Sometimes, children feel unsafe or overwhelmed when they are asked direct questions. It can also make them think they are in trouble or have done something wrong. Playing creates safety, which allows them to feel comfortable to share their thoughts and feelings.
During your child’s time in play therapy they will learn many things. Some of those things are-
-How to respect themselves
-Learn that their feelings are acceptable and ways to express their feelings responsibly and appropriately
-How to assume responsibility for themselves
-How to be resourceful and creative in confronting problems
-Self-control and self-direction
-How to make choices and be responsible for their choices
-Gradually learn, at a feeling level, how to accept themselves