Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” — Fred Rogers
Mr. Rogers expressed so well what we all know to be true: Play is the language of children. It helps them:
- use their imagination and build their vocabulary
- regulate their emotions and develop social skills
- build trust and learn kindness
So what does play therapy look like? One of our therapists, Jordan,describes it as a way to engage youth through fun games, developmentally appropriate activities, and nurturing conversation to help them feel secure, connected, and appreciated. She equips her office with a variety of specially selected toys and games to help kids act out their feelings and learn positive behaviors.
Toys used in therapy include a sand box with miniature figures (people, animals, superheroes, etc.), art materials, Legos or other construction toys, costumes, stuffed animals, a dollhouse and doll “family”, puppets, and games. Our therapists also use clay, therapeutic storytelling, music and dance, or role playing to help kids relax and open up about the issues that concern them.
We play a variety of board games that are interactive and therapeutic,” another therapist, Angie, shared. “Their names tell it all—“Stop, Relax, and Think,” “The Feelings Game,” “The Good Mourning Game,” and “The Angry Monster Machine.
”Play and play therapy strengthens a child’s ability to heal and find trust,” Angie says “It helps a disruptive child calm down and self-regulate. It helps a shy or withdrawn child form deeper social connections and feel safe. It’s one of many ways we show our kids at Cunningham that they’re valued and loved.”