I apologize for not posting in awhile. I have been one tired momma lately being 33 weeks pregnant and chasing a toddler all day long. So after I put her to bed, I am usually curled up on the sofa in a coma for some much needed relaxation time and no time for blogging.
But, yesterday I was so excited to witness my child's first real play therapy experience during her imaginative play!
It all started a couple of weeks ago when my toddler was climbing our wooden outdoor playground with my husband. He comes inside and tells me he thinks she has a splinter in her foot. I have no idea why she was climbing barefoot, but apparently she was and somehow got a tiny piece of wood lodged on the bottom of her foot.
So I get the needle, sterilize it, and while my husband holds her, I quickly prick her foot and got the splinter out. Of course she was crying and not happy, so I told her she had a booboo from the playground and mommy had to fix it. I kissed her foot and told her it was all better. She didn't want to walk on it for a few minutes but then was okay.
Weellll, the next week she constantly kept saying, 'booboo' and wanting me to kiss her foot and then held out her other foot for me to kiss. Each day I was kissing her foot. I think the poor thing was a little traumatized by it (okay I am exaggerating here), and she wanted reassurance.
But yesterday as we were playing together, she grabbed one of her dolls and brought it over to me. She held out the baby's foot and asked me to kiss it! She said, "booboo" and held out the foot! It was so adorable. She then held out the other foot and wanted me to kiss that one. She then walked away to put a diaper on the baby doll and that was it.
As I was sitting there a few minutes later, it dawned on me that she had just had her real first play therapy experience!!! She had been through a little stressful experience of having a splinter removed, and she released her anxiety by playing it out with her baby doll! She has not asked me to kiss her foot or the doll's since.
And that my friends, is what play therapy is all about.
Children communicate through their play. They use toys as their words and play is their language. Children can expresses themselves and any anxieties, worries, changes in the home (new baby), etc. through their play. And play therapy doesn't have to be for the super serious trauma inflicted children either. It is great for all children as they grow through life and have new experiences, they can safely play out what they have learned and witnessed through their play.
So what was my response to her play and how was it more play therapy vs just pretend play? In play therapy we reflect feelings and do not judge or make long explanations. So I reflected the baby's feelings of feeling hurt and sad and that she was now feeling better: "Baby feels sad and hurt.....You want mommy to kiss the baby's booboo." And I also 'enlarged the meaning' by stating, "sometimes we get booboos and they hurt but then they go away. Band aids and kisses can help make them feel better."
And in case you were wondering, no, I don't recommend using play therapy responses all day long with your child when the time comes. I do make feelings statements with my toddler though here and there so she learns her feelings and use non-directive play at times (not labeling her toys but letting her do the labeling) and letting her guide the play. Usually it's a lot of mommy being silly and having fun with my child kind of play all day long, but when the opportunity comes like yesterday, it feels so good that I can help her along. So cute!