Breaking the norm through play!

Play therapy practitioner, Sinead van Niekerk. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Children’s Day, both nationally and internationally, is celebrated in the month of November, so it is only fitting to discuss ways in how to work and strengthen different modes of communication between you and your child.

Since 93% of all communication is nonverbal and only 7% is verbal, we have to consider that playing is a child’s natural medium of self-expression and their first language. Play therapy practitioner, Sinead van Niekerk, defines play therapy as a “therapeutic environment that creates a safe space where children are able to communicate their emotions, thoughts, needs, memories, stories, and feelings and to process and work out what they may not have been able to.” Experiential history and behavioural patterns are also considered to give a better understanding as to where the patterns come from and how to strengthen neural pathways.

Play therapy in a therapeutic sense, is used for children who struggle with social interaction or cannot cope at school. Sometimes it can even be a developmental regression. Parents or teachers normally refer children especially when a big and difficult moment has happened and suddenly the child seems to struggle to process the ‘moment’.

How your parents have parented you, might affect how you parent your child and that is where filial play, which focuses on the relationship between child and parent, is just as crucial for struggling parents or even mothers with postpartum depression. When it comes to filial play coaching, Sinead mentions that it is very difficult to give when you have nothing to give. “Therefore it is crucial to seek help, even if it’s through conventional therapy.”

When it comes to how effective play therapy is and whether parents should definitely consider play therapy to enhance the child’s general overview of life, the play therapy practitioner quotes her favourite Plato quote: “You learn more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation.”

Abigail Visagie