As parents, we often think that if our child is not doing an activity involving numbers or the alphabet, they are not learning! However, that couldn't be further from the truth. Playing is vital and often overlooked in our children's development.
It's important to remember that your child has not yet developed a strong enough vocabulary to express their feelings. Play allows children to process complicated emotions whilst developing skills to make sense of the world around them and problem solve. How do they do this? There are many instances we can draw on. For example, when your child plays socially with other children, they learn an essential skill such as waiting their turn. They are developing their ability to build strong social and emotional skills that will help them develop their relationships with other children. This becomes useful in a school setting and later on as adults.
We can think of "Play" as fundamental in supporting the difficulties your child might have. For example, if your child has a hearing or visual impairment, "play" strengthens their other senses through the physical act of playing and helps them to navigate and explore the world in a safe and supported environment. If your child has a mobility impairment, "play" exercises their muscles and improves their overall coordination in a fun way, they are doing hours of physical therapy without realising it. Children on the autistic spectrum disorder may appear to be less social or imaginative with their play. As a parent, you may find that they instead show interest in non-toy objects and get enjoyment from things like counting or sorting objects – but this is still playing!
Play also gives children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) the ability to develop strong social and emotional skills that will help them build their relationships with other children. Children with ADHD generally struggle to play socially because their symptoms, such as having difficulty waiting their turn, can sometimes put other children off playing with them.
A qualified Play therapist uses your child's interests to encourage social and imaginative play by combining the activities they truly enjoy. No matter their ability, your child can benefit from a play therapist's immense toolkit of skills that allows them to express themselves and exert some energy, and with the guidance, of course. Play therapy is one of the most empirically validated forms of treatment available for children.
Many children who use play therapy make great strides over relatively few sessions and see improvements over the years. This is because children are given the tools to regulate themselves emotionally and express themselves rather than through unproductive behaviours, like throwing tantrums. The skills they develop in a facilitated playroom are lifelong skills they will use to grow into adults. So, the next time your child asks to play, know they will be learning a tremendous number of skills!
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!