As well as having the beaches and South Downs, this summer there are a lot of activities on locally (many low cost):
However, children also like really simple stay-at-home play too, which is excellent for helping them feel calm and happy. This is due to the amazing impact play and bonding has on the frontal cortex and hormonal system.
Some of the more traditional styles of play are the best (and cheapest!). A few ideas to try...
Play-doh: With your child, make low-cost homemade play-doh or salt-doh (which can be cooked and painted), simply combine a cup of flour (any type) and a cup of salt with a small amount of water (add more water/flour to get the preferred consistency). Add oil and food colouring to this mixture to make play-doh that can be kept in the fridge.
Role-play: See if you can engage with your child in role-play, set up a shop for example using items from the kitchen. See if your child could direct their own performance, either acting and singing or using puppets and toys. In my experience, children love to be the director - telling you what character they would like you to be so you can help with their performance. Maybe they could act out their favourite film or book?
Water play: Children love to play around with water, if you don’t have a paddling pool, try filling a bowl up with water in the garden adding water safe toys
Messy play: Using a mat (or in the garden) try a box of Cornflour (under £1.00) mixed with water on a tray - your child may be surprised by the consistency!! Try making up a bowl of jelly and adding toys (such a creepy-crawly’s) or some cold spaghetti with food colouring.
Make a den: With old cushions, blankets, towels and sheets your child can make their own den, this can be a lot of fun either outside or in if it’s wet.
Sock puppets: Usually felt-tip pens work fine on old socks.
A bug hunt: either in the garden, river or rock pools, see what critters can be found!
I am a child and adolescent psychotherapist (UKCP Registered); a counsellor; arts and play therapist based in Chichester, covering Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. You can contact me here.