A play date with social and emotional health

Deccan Chronicle.  | Gokul MG

Lifestyle, Culture and Society

“Play dates are important for children, They give them an opportunity to practice social and emotional skills

Representational image (AFP)

Contrary to popular belief, children are not exempt from stress and emotional disturbances. For troubled little ones, Play Therapy is an undemanding route to both inner calm and social skills.

Popular Play Therapy practitioner Anya Reddy uses innovative ways to help children with social or emotional difficulties to communicate better, change their behaviour, develop problem-solving skills, and relate to others in positive ways.

To underline the importance of Play Therapy and how it can help children, Anya cites the famous quote by singer-song writer Leonard Cohen - “Children don’t say, ‘I had a hard day; can we talk?’ They say, ‘Will you play with me?’ That’s exactly what she facilitates.

“Through Play Therapy children self-heal with the assistance of a trained and registered therapist. I have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of parents and their children. If given time to engage in Free Play, 80% of children are able to soothe their emotions themselves. However, 20% demonstrate a need for assistance with addressing their emotional concerns,” she says.

“Play dates are important for children. They give them an opportunity to practice social and emotional skills,” elaborates Anya. “But some children need help to demonstrate their feelings. That’s where Play Therapy comes in.”

Anya uses toys to interact with kids and help them express their feelings. “My toolkit is integrative and holistic; I use Art, Music, Drama, Puppets and Masks, Therapeutic Storytelling, Movement, Mindfulness, Sand Trays and Toys, and more! With all these I am letting them be very natural and as expressive as they can be, so I can help them easily,” she explains.

Asked how parents can figure out if their children needs Play Therapy assistance, she says “You can feel it from their odd behaviours sometimes. All kids have emotional ups and downs: periods of moodiness and the way they react to you. All these should be watched carefully.”

For Anya, the lockdown presented some difficulties. For instance, she is not able to do any one-on-one consultation at the moment. “I am talking to my clients online, but it is a new thing for me,” she says.

On the other hand, Anya feels the lockdown has given a lot of parents a chance to take a break from their busy schedules and spend time with their children. It has become a blessing in disguise for many parents, who are enjoying much-needed playdates with their children at home, she points out.