Play is the way in which children learn and develop understand the world around them, and express their feelings. It is how they communicate. Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, it connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego (Landreth, 2002). In play therapy, your child’s natural tendency toward play will help them, to process complicated emotions they may not otherwise be able to express. Sometimes we can unintentionally pressure children by asking them to explain to us “whats wrong?” It would be unfair to expect children, to have the language skills to convey what they are feeling in words. This can be challenging as adults too. Instead, they may express their pain in different ways, such as exhibiting defiance, having severe tantrums, crying frequently, becoming socially withdrawn, being unusually clingy, or refusing to attend school. Therapeutic play, provides children with a more flexible way of expressing themselves and will help with the following:
It is very important that the feelings that are being expressed are allowed and most importantly accepted. Feelings are natural and automatic, also they are not a product of conscious choice, so letting them flow is necessary for a child’s emotional development. However, when children express strong or negative feelings and desires, they are often met with disapproval by their parents or other adults. Another essential benefit of Play Therapy is that when a child gets used to this one adult accepting his emotions, he/she begins to feel more comfortable expressing them to the other adults in his life.
Therapeutic play can help your child to:
• Develop self-efficacy and confidence, thereby becoming more self assuredness competent about their abilities.
• Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
• Build upon respect and acceptance of self and others.
• Learn to experience and express a variety of emotions.
• Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
• Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
• Become more responsible for behaviours and develop more successful ways of coping.