This quote comes from one of the parenting lesson chapters (2006, Bratton, Landerth, Kellam, and Blackard) that I use with parents that I work with in my practice. I guide parents to focus on the relationship, your strengths and your child's strengths, which is all the good and yummy parts of the donut, NOT the problem, which is the missing part or the hole of the donut.
Play is the child's language. Our children sometimes don't have the ability to communicate their thoughts, feelings, or need through words. But through play, they are experts in expressing their feelings and thoughts through the toys or role plays they set up.
Take a moment and just observe your child while they are playing. What do you notice? What is happening in the play? Are they creating a story using their toys? Look at their facial expression, what are they communicating to you through their facial expression and their body? Joy? Sadness? Anger? Confusion?
In play, children express what their lives are like now, what they are needing from the environment (parents), or how they wish things could change. Sometimes you notice your child acting out, shutting down and withdrawing from the world, or screaming and crying, becoming aggressive, and defiant. These "acting out" behaviors can be a form of communication to the parents, trying to send a message to the parents that they are not being understood, or a needs not being met, or they are feeling lonely and want more mommy/daddy time to feel connected and that they exist.
I encourage you to find one day out of the week to engage in play with your child for 20-30 minutes, have your child bring out some of their toys, some coloring materials, and whatever the child needs during your special play time together. Just observe and listen to your child. Your child will show you what they need, what they are feeling or thinking so that you have more awareness of what is happening in your child's world.
If you are interested in learning more about Play Therapy or Child-Parent Relationship Therapy. Please contact me at or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit my website: elikolmftplaytherapy.com. My practice is Orange County, Costa Mesa, CA.
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