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How an Emotional Child Can Benefit from PlayTherapy

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

We appreciate that it is not always easy for parents to discuss child therapy. No parent wants their child to "require therapy," which is tragic because therapy has the power to transform lives.

While it is true that these qualified therapists help children with coping with extremely difficult subjects like abuse, neglect, and trauma, they can also help children build strengths like problem-solving that in turn are positive child development and strengths. The goal of therapy sessions can be to help children build up their self-esteem and confidence as well as other good emotions and characteristics. It also develops healthy coping mechanisms.

A by-product of therapy sessions helps:

  1. Build your child’s self-esteem.

  2. Improves your child’s communication skills.

  3. Stimulates healthy, normal development.

  4. Builds an appropriate emotional repertoire.

  5. Improves your child’s emotional vocabulary.

Therapy for children simply offers ways that are appropriate, for your child to understand themselves in the world.

Symptoms to look out for.

The following list of symptoms may indicate an issue that therapy can correct or help with:

  • Unwarranted aggression;

  • Incontinence;

  • Difficulty adjusting to social situations;

  • Frequent nightmares and sleep difficulties;

  • A sudden drop in grades at school;

  • Persistent worry and anxiety;

  • Withdrawing from activities they normally enjoy;

  • Loss of appetite or dramatic weight loss/gain;

  • Performing obsessive routines like hand washing;

  • Expressing thoughts of suicide;

  • Talking about voices they hear in their head;

  • Social isolation and wanting to be alone;

  • Alcohol or drug use;

  • Increased physical complaints despite a normal, healthy physician’s report;

  • Self-harm such as cutting.

In addition to these issues, a child may be dealing with:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness;

  • Constant anger and a tendency to overreact to situations;

  • Preoccupation with physical illness or their own appearance;

  • An inability to concentrate, think clearly or make decisions;

  • An inability to sit still;

  • Diets or binging behavior;

  • Violent acts such as setting fires or killing animals.

How an Emotional Child Can Benefit from Play Therapy

An overly emotional child can be described as one who often struggles with inappropriate emotional expression or is emotionally dysregulated, they may also have ADHD, anxiety, or even an autism spectrum disorder.

Becoming a trained Play Therapist has taught me how to "speak their language", the language of play and it has given me access into a child’s world, one which is often left silent. I explain to parents that "the play" serves only as a bridge to therapy. I often stress that play therapy is not about having some toys in a therapy room or encouraging children to draw or play with blocks as they talk with a counselor or psychologist.

For example, Play Therapy is useful for reducing anxiety because it offers children and opportunity to learn new ways to channel your child’s feelings and energy. It can also help them to identify their innermost thoughts and replace the negative ones with more positive, helpful ones.

As your child develops, they will face different challenges in the early years of development.

Here are some key themes:

  1. Infancy: Trust vs Mistrust. In this stage, infants require a great deal of attention and comfort from their parents, leading them to develop their first sense of trust (or, in some cases, mistrust).

  2. Early Childhood: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. Toddlers and very young children are beginning to assert their independence and develop their unique personalities, making tantrums and defiance common.

  3. Preschool Years: Initiative vs. Guilt. Children at this stage begin learning about social roles and norms, their imagination takes off at this point, and the defiance and tantrums of the previous stage will likely continue. The way trusted adults interact with the child will encourage them to act independently or to develop a sense of guilt about any inappropriate actions.

  4. School Age: Industry (Competence) vs. Inferiority. At this stage, your child is building important relationships with peers and is likely beginning to feel the pressure of academic performance; mental health issues may begin at this stage, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other problems.

  5. Adolescence: Identity vs. Role Confusion. The adolescent is reaching new heights of independence and is beginning to experiment and develop their identity. Problems with communication and sudden emotional and physical changes are common at this stage.

As you do your own research on Play Therapy you will find that there are no predetermined interventions during the play therapy sessions that seek to change the child's behaviour. Instead, what we do as play therapists is consistently offer a safe relationship and an environment in which your child is free to be self-directive. I mainly focus on the relationship I have with your child rather than the initial problem as this allows your child to tell me through "play" the anxieties, fears, or other complex emotions that are feeling or experiencing. In this way, parents begin to recognize that what occurs in the nondirective playroom becomes helpful in addressing any issues arising at home and school.

Do you think your Teen or Child could benefit from therapy? Speak to a qualified Play therapist to learn how your Teen or Child could benefit from play therapy, Click here to get in touch today, or if you want to know if Play Therapy could be suitable for your Teen or Child, click here to take our quiz!

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