As a Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of play therapy, I understand the vital importance of play in the life of a child. With the COVID-19 pandemic which has swept the world, our children are being exposed to stressors and events that no child should ever have to endure. Children need play in their lives now more than ever before. Play is their only way to communicate and to process these traumatic times. A time of play allows for children to increase their emotional strength and reduces stress which in turn increases our children’s immunity defenses.
It is for this reason that I feel the urgency to call all parents and caregivers to set aside a minimum of 45 minutes to 1 hour during the day to play with their children. This structured time should meet the following guidelines:
- If possible should be one parent with one child at a time even if you have to limit play to only 30 minutes
- Play time is uninterrupted with no texting, social media, online surfing or phone use of any type
- Should be in a safe place
- Parents and caregivers need to offer a time which is non-judgmental in the parameters of protection
- Needs to be lead by child and not adult, offering no suggestions about what or how to play unless asked from child
- Do not interrupt the child’s process by being impatient for child to finish tasks at hand
- This is not a time for teaching. It is a time of reflecting and empathetic listening of feelings.
- Repeat back to the child their actions during play instead of offering your biased insight.
- Listen to what your children are telling you via their play
- Provide unconditional love and support
There is always time for play. It should not be underestimated. During this time of crisis it is a basic necessity and will strengthen our children. We will make it through this together.
– K. D., LPC/MHSP, NCC