April 2, 2020
Staying Connected with our Children Through Therapeutic Play
Some of us are really struggling at home. Others are having a wonderful time. In fact, there are a group of anxious children who are not even symptomizing right now because they are so happy to just be home with their loved ones. They feel safe and cared for, and they are relieved from the pressures of their busy and possibly over-scheduled everyday lives. This can be the perfect time to introduce therapeutic play to your children, regardless of which category they fit in.
Fact is, we have time at home, and we have time to play. So how do we get ourselves to play, and how do we play in a way that is therapeutic to everyone involved?
If you don’t enjoy playing with your children, don’t despair! You are not alone. Playing with children is very important, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Don’t get stuck on overthinking this. Rather, think about something that you do enjoy doing. If you had to play something, what would it be? Your child will enjoy it because you enjoy it. So, do this thing, albeit kicking a ball, playing marbles, a board game you like. Be true to yourself, and soon your child will all about it too. Because honestly, they mostly just want to be with you!
If you’re still out of ideas, there are a number of things that you can do with your child, such as the activities listed below. These are Theraplay-based activities.
I wanted to demonstrate some of these Theraplay-based activities with my 6-year-old daughter. It feels really good as a parent to be spending this kind of quality time with her, and I can feel the connection between us as we laugh together, and share these special moments! I also notice how her behavior changes because her love tank is filled up with this one-on-one play time.
Click on each game below to see the demonstration video:
-> An Airplane Ride
-> Peanut Butter & Jelly
-> Animal Kisses
-> Row, Row, Row your Boat
-> Arm Squeezes
-> ‘Round the Garden
-> Copy My Face
-> Poking Cheeks
-> Making Pizza Massage
These games can be played with children of different ages. Try them and see which ones you enjoy!
I also asked my 11-year-old son to make a scene in the sand about Coronavirus. He created a double-sided scene and asked me to guess which side I thought was the virus. Reluctantly I said the bigger, scarier side and he replied “Yes!” Towards the end of our time I asked him what he would do if he could change one thing. He proceeded to punch the virus and destroy that part of the scene. He looked so powerful as he did this.
Letting him create this scene helped me to know how he was viewing the virus. From there it led to a longer conversation between us, but it all started with simply observing his artwork and commenting on what I saw.
Play doesn’t need to be long and complicated, it can simply be bringing your child to do something you love together, giggling over some games, or creating a scene to see how they view the world. Hopefully this helps give you some ideas to do together when the days seem extra long, and create some positive bonding memories in the process!