It’s been a hard year for everyone, especially children, and the concern we’re seeing for our mental health (as individuals and a society) is being extended to talking about our kids’ mental health. How are they coping with this? Are they getting everything they need? What can we do to get and keep kids talking?
As many counselors who work closely with children will tell you, play therapy is essential to making children feel comfortable, safe, and engaged. Here are some engaging resources to use in your play therapy.
A Quick Overview of Play Therapy
It may not sound like it, but play therapy is a structured approach to counseling that helps children when they don’t have the verbal language to express what is on their minds. It follows the natural way that children learn and develop communication skills – through play!
Play therapy can help children develop social emotional skills on topics including:
- Emotional Intensity
- Conflict Resolution
- Organization Skills
- Coping Skills
- Family changes
- …and more!
Play-based counseling is not a new concept. It’s been effectively used in individual and group settings for years. There are, however, new tools that can help counselors and parents successfully communicate with children. Youthlight is one of the leading resources for counselors, educators, and parents.
Using Lego in Individual and Group Settings
What’s great about the Brick-Based Counseling series is that it incorporates toys that most children already have access to. It combines art and play-therapy in an innovative way that allows children to engage in creative expression.
Each book contains detailed lesson plans with an emphasis on easy-to-implement projects using Lego bricks. Each project has extension activities and discussion topics perfect for six 30-minute sessions. You’ll also have access to the digital files for 3 more in-depth projects so you can extend the learning opportunities for your child or student.
Other engaging activities
Some kids aren’t excited about Legos, and that’s okay, too. There are several other activities you can choose to fit the child perfectly. Here are a few suggestions:
It can be hard to get kids to talk sometimes. The Youthlight Thumball is a soft stuffed ball to throw, roll, or pass in a circle or randomly. Catch it! Look under your thumb. Kids absolutely love this interactive tool. Without even knowing it, you will be encouraging the use of interpersonal skills, including taking turns, eye contact, listening, and responding.
Games & Card Decks
Hands-on activities that are fun and engaging can make all the difference. Card decks offer various scenarios to help children brainstorm and discuss possible solutions or outcomes. Games present topics in a non-threatening way and allow children to work through multiple scenarios.
Getting children to open up can be a challenge, but it’s one of our greatest successes as counselors. Play therapy can help children feel comfortable and allows them to learn and explore new topics in a familiar way – the way all children learn – through play!