Grad: The Power of Play
Play Therapy gives children the tools to communicate and helps parents connect with their kids.
Chuck Romig (Professor): Play is the language of children, and toys are the words they use to communicate to us. Play therapy is a way to give children a voice where they can tell us things about themselves and particularly what’s going on inside them emotionally that they can’t put into words. And play is a much better way for them to share their emotions than through misbehavior. Well, a good play therapy room has a variety of toys that are selected for very specific reasons. You have certain play themes that you want to give a child an opportunity to express to you, which have a lot to do with your basic emotions—mad, sad, glad, and afraid. You have toys that are specifically designed to draw out of anger, or aggression. The bot bag is one. If they’re angry about something, it’s probably going to come out through that toy. So we might just say, tell me a story about your world and what that’s like and who are the important people. We also have toys that are designed to let them use their imagination so they can just go whatever direction they want, it’s kind of a child center where the child takes the lead and the therapist just follows the child. It’s called child-centered play therapy. There are a lot of conflicting ideas about how to parent well, and that’s even true for Christian parents. So many parents don’t know what to do. And so, a big part of what we try to do whether it’s with play therapy or other kinds of family therapy as far as helping parents is to try to help alleviate some of that confusion. The parent has an earpiece, and we can coach them through the earpiece. It was the mother said to me after a session, she said, I got to the point where I didn’t even like my son anymore, I just didn’t want to be around him. He’s a neat kid. The play has really helped me to see that again. I mean, we certainly want to help children learn to deal better with what’s going on inside them, but even more importantly is to help parents and kids connect well, to relate well, and to enjoy each other, so that parents feel like they’re better parents, and then feel like they’re better people as a result.