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Have you seen this child?

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

Identifying children who could benefit from Play Therapy

Offering therapeutic support to a child can often be misunderstood as a criticism, suggesting there is something "wrong" with a child that needs to be corrected. If we take the position that any and all behaviours are a form of communication of needs, then all therapeutic intervention does is act as a translator, to help decipher what a child is asking for, and offer them alternatives strategies to get their needs met.

The "Well behaved" one

  • Polite

  • Softly spoken

  • Shy

  • Lack of eye contact

  • Easily tearful

  • Difficulty trying something new

  • Difficulty getting things wrong and having the resilience to try again

  • Often described as "well behaved"

Usually obedient, polite and hard-working, this child can often be overlooked because they seem "fine", just a little "shy". A child displaying the qualities above, could possibly need time and space to develop their sense of Self. By having the opportunity to explore their own identity, their self-confidence could increase and their voice become louder as they learn that these needs are healthy, acceptable and that wanting them met is their right.

The "Hyper" one

  • High energy

  • Easily distracted

  • Poor physical boundaries

  • Playground confrontations

  • Difficulty accepting responsibility for situations

  • Policing other children

  • Dominating/disturbing lessons

  • Difficulty participating in group work

  • Craves 1 to 1 attention

This child can often leave teachers, parents and carers exasperated as their seemingly never-ending supply of energy drains everyone, as they try to contain them. This child craves being seen and acknowledged, validating their existence but some attention is never enough. Therapeutic intervention here could offer this child a consistent, 1-1 experience where their needs are the full focus of the adult (therapist). The opportunity to be heard and seen regularly, allows the child to develop confidence in their own value and voice. The timed, timetabled sessions also contains the experience so the child comes to learn that they will receive their time, and others must also have theirs too.

The "Quiet" one

  • Often alone

  • Difficulty maintaining friendships

  • Difficulty with group participation

  • Anxious/shy

  • Little to no eye contact

  • Difficulty expressing themselves

  • Low self esteem

This child can often seem distant and disengaged. To them, investing in and developing relationships can be a risky business because they could be taken away at any time. Developing a sense of trust for this child is key, and consistent experiences with a therapist and their immediate care givers such as parents, teachers or carers can help them build this. The therapeutic space will offer the opportunity for the child to test the trust building between them and the therapist, and also develop a tolerance for it; as at first this will seem "too good to be true".

The "Angry" one

  • Verbally and physically aggressive

  • Often excluded

  • Struggling to access appropriate academic level 

  • Struggles to communicate feelings verbally

  • Prone to extreme outbursts

  • Unpredictable behaviours and triggers

Often a child that others are scared of, this child is committed to a persona they have created to protect themselves. In moments of vulnerability, you may see glimpses of a loving and sensitive child, but these are quickly masked with anger, verbal or physical abuse and disproportionate responses to seemingly small triggers. This child may desperately want to shed the role they have created for themselves but that is a frightening thought. Until now, this role has worked for them: they are still alive and being paid attention to. Trying something different could mean risking those vital connections. Therapeutic sessions would offer this child the chance to play out those new roles and explore what might happen if they chose a different path in a safe, confidential environment.

Do any of these children sound familiar? Reading the descriptions, who pops into your head? Are you surprised that some of these children could benefit from emotional support? 

Play Therapy clients come in all guises with a vast array of different behaviours. Although you may not be able to cater therapeutically for children on your premises, Dagaz Therapy can help, reducing your costs and empowering your children.

Play Therapy can help increase confidence by empowering the "Well behaved one" to make their own choices safely and with self confidence; ground a "Hyper" chaotic child with consistency and a safe space to explore; give a "Quiet" child a voice by providing a friendly ear to experiment with; and calm an "Angry" dysregulated child with non-judgemental acceptance and patience to work through the frustrations they are feeling but cannot express without feeling too vulnerable. 

I'd really love to talk with you about how we can make a difference to these children, if you would too, please drop me an email and let's arrange a time to talk.

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