Playing is important to a child’s development, which goes beyond merely having fun. Until kids are matured enough to think for themselves, play is one of the most effective ways to introduce children into society.
In addition to getting their hands dirty and buying them the age-appropriate toys, the concept of play is also a form of therapy for children, especially when it’s integrated as part of an occupational therapy regimen–its impact grows even more profound.
Here’s the importance of play for children undergoing occupational therapy.
Fosters The Children’s Relationship With The Therapist
During occupational therapy, therapists feel the need to communicate with children in the way they’d understand. For that to happen, the therapist has to build a relationship with them and establish trust first.
The best way to build that relationship and trust is through play. Children understand the language of play very well. So, they find it easy to relate with therapists who play with them and get to know them.
Once the children have grown comfortable with the therapist, a bond will be formed. Only then will the therapist be able to help the child.
Enables The Child To Develop Coping Skills
There’s usually a decrease in undesirable behaviors and attitudes of children once they can find an outlet to disperse what they feel. For most, play is that outlet.
During therapy, a therapist could use fun activities in introducing children to coping skills. For example, children might see that if they smash their toys and break them when angry, they won’t get another one.
By using play as a form of therapy, children can be taught how to be aware of their environment and cope with situations in different ways. Also, the kids would learn to face the consequences of their actions, allowing them to cope better without displaying offensive attitudes.
Even when dealing with traumatic experiences, like separation, death of a close family member, domestic violence, and the likes, play can help them deal with the situation and cope better.
Encourages Independence, Creative Thinking, And Problem-Solving Skills
Before children can think critically, play is the best way to teach children about independence, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills. There are diverse play and fun activities related to story-telling, role-playing, creative visualization, dance, arts and crafts, and more, that can teach children these much-needed skills.
These activities would give kids a supportive and understanding environment they need to learn without feeling pressured. They’d also enable the kids to think by themselves and also freely express themselves. Even in regular school settings, teachers also use play and fun activities to teach children.
Helps Them Communicate Better
The art of communication requires expressing emotions and feelings, then describing them in a way that others would understand. But children don’t know this early on. This is why they usually express themselves in ways they understand best–crying, throwing tantrums, sulking, clinginess, refusing to eat, defiance, etc. But even these modes of expression rarely ever achieve the desired results, because the adults can only guess what they think the child is feeling.
Thankfully, play can help kids communicate better. Playing enables kids to learn communication skills to express themselves in understandable ways. It also helps the parents or other guardians to understand, interpret, and respond to their children’s communication patterns. This means that play encourages a better relationship between families and their children.
Improves Social Skills
Learning social skills as kids isn’t as easy as you think, which is even harder for kids who are shy or reserved. However, by taking part in play activities that focus on social activities, children who are undergoing occupational therapy can learn how to interact and react in different social situations.
For example, the therapist might bring in a dollhouse that showcases school settings to teach the children how to react to different interactions that might ensue. The children could also learn how to deal with nice people, bullies, friends, frightening situations, happy events, and more. The play activities would also teach the kids how to understand the feelings and thoughts of other people and interact with them better.
With a lot happening over the world, the role of play in occupational therapy is increasingly more important. Even adults need fun once in a while to relieve tension, how much more kids.
Play is an effective tool for kids to learn creative thinking, develop coping skills, and both social and communication skills. It also helps kids promote a better relationship with the people around them, such as their parents, other kids, and other adults.