Young children do not process their thoughts and feelings in words like most adults do. It is no surprise when children answer probing questions with one-word answers--often they truly cannot articulate with words what's on their mind. Talk therapy can also be stressful and confusing to a child, as they tend to look for the "right answer" and can even feel interrogated.
It is more effective and developmentally appropriate to communicate with children at their level: through play!
Play therapy is an engaging, informative, and effective therapy technique for children, especially if your child has been defensive and resistant to therapy in the past.
Play therapy is a specific and strategic way of connecting with a child and his or her inner world.
Depending on a child's particular struggles, play therapy goals may include:
- Processing trauma, grief, and life changes
- Exploring the thoughts and concerns that underlie anxiety
- Building social skills and empathy for others
- Increasing frustration tolerance and an ability self-regulate
- Addressing attachment-related issues (common in adoptive, blended, and military families)
- Identifying the lagging skills that underlie challenging behavior and tantrums
- Developing coping, self-soothing, and emotional regulation skills
- Building self-esteem and a sense of self-worth