October 1 is Child Health Awareness Day. Play therapy is a fantastic approach to help kids and families improve parent-child relationships and work through issues of trauma, grief and loss, inattention, impulsivity and sensory issues.
Children LOVE to communicate through play and toys are the words to their language. Sometimes, parents have forgotten how to play or feel like it is indulgent or only for kids. In case you missed my interview Sunday morning on Fox 4, here are a few reasons to consider play therapy for your child or teen:
1. STOP TECH TANTRUMS. Too much tech time and too little unplugged (or batteries not included) play gets in the way of healthy parent-child relationships and emotional development, impacting the development of empathy skills and self-regulation of feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Kids need to run, jump, explore, color and have enriched, relational sensory experiences.
2. UNEXPLAINED BEHAVIOR CHANGES. Sudden anger outbursts, irritability, issues with peers, lack of motivation or defiance with rules at home or school or are signs mental health intervention may be needed. Play therapy lets us process intense emotions in a fun, engaging way.
3. SOCIAL ISOLATION/WITHDRAWAL. Shy or withdrawn children or teens can benefit from play therapy as clients engage in sensory play therapy activities facilitated by a play therapist and get to decide what they verbally share with the therapist. Legos are a popular toy used in play therapy to establish rapport in a way that does not feel intrusive. Give a guy some legos, they'll tell you anything you ever wanted to know!
4. UNSUCCESSFUL THERAPY EXPERIENCES. Sometimes, a mismatch between the personality of the client and therapist or the therapeutic approach of the therapist can prevent the client from having a successful therapy experience. Play therapy may involve blowing bubbles, playing with legos, snowball fights with cotton balls, drawing and playing with miniatures. Kids love to communicate through play and toys are the words to their language.
5. PARENTS NEED SUPPORT TOO! Parents sometimes need additional tools to help their children lead healthy, happy, successful lives. Seeking support from a play therapist can help parents explore their values about parenting, childhood messages they received about play, allow them to let loose and not worry unnecessarily about their kids, learn new, effective discipline tips and receive validation they are good parents.
If you have any questions about play therapy or mental health services for children, teens and families, please call Playful Awareness at 913-244-8786 or send an email to email@example.com.
Until next time,
Sara Minges, LPC