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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

9 Ways That Play Helps Children Deal With Scary Things

Photo by jennyfriedrichs (pixabay)

Learning to handle difficult or scary situations is an integral part of a child's growth and development. It is important to explore different coping mechanisms and ways of handling difficult situations. Be it through play, pre-planning, or personal development, find things that resonate with your child and empower them to be confident in themselves and their emotions during times of stress, such as the start of a new school year, a move, or a trauma.

Play therapy

Play therapy uses a child's natural inclination to play as a vehicle for the processing of tricky or uncomfortable emotions. Therapists understand that children may be more likely to open up and communicate indirectly while playing because the act of play feels like a safe barrier between themselves and something scary they may have experienced.

Dynamic Play

Dynamic play may be helpful to children experiencing complex emotions. By taking on alternative roles, children are able to explore another perspective and the emotions of another. Dynamic play also helps to build on children's' vocabulary, which may also be helpful in the expression of their own emotions.

Obstacle Play

Obstacle play is a great way for children to practice problem-solving. These activities can teach resilience and perseverance.

Play to Build Confidence

Play can help build confidence in children and encourage them to feel comfortable in their decision-making in play and in other circumstances.

Find New Friends

Getting out and meeting a new group of friends can be helpful in expanding a child's circle to include new perspectives, which may also be helpful in processing difficult experiences. New friends also offer a new start and that can be a refreshing experience for children that may be carrying trauma.

Develop Communication Skills

Working with children to develop their communication skills from an early age has lasting benefits as they come up against different challenges. Being able to communicate emotions clearly and confidently is also a skill that can help them navigate stressful situations such as public speaking.

Make a Plan

When a stressful or scary situation is upcoming, it can be helpful to talk to children before had and create a plan on how to best handle the scary thing. Exploring the options of how to handle something unpleasant can empower a child to make a calm decision on how to best approach the problem and walk through different "what-if" scenarios. It is important to note though that this technique doesn't work for all.

Be Patience and Offer Praise

When dealing with a child in turmoil, patience is key. Allow them space and time to work through complicated emotions in ways that are the healthiest and most accessible to them. Facilitate the processing of events and the emotions it raises in a safe and encouraging way, offering praise for the child's courage and self-awareness.

Model Calmness

In stressful times and times of uncertainty, model calmness for your child. Children take queues from those around them to learn about appropriate responses to stress, discomfort, and fear. By mastering your own emotions, you set an example for your child. A calm demeanor may also position you as a person that the child can come to as a source of strength.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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