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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Clancy

The Importance of Child-led Play

Extensive research highlights the importance of play on the developing brain, furthermore, play should be something we continue to engage in throughout our lives since it activates the creative parts of our brain that can help us problem solve, interact meaningfully with others and feel more positive. 

Since playing is so crucial for children’s brains; what is the best way to do this?  Play, like other areas of development takes place in stages, however, nothing beats just letting your child choose a make-believe game or role-play and letting them ‘direct’ you into the game.  If you can do your best to let go of inhibitions (this may take some practice!) you can become the character/role your child chooses for you and they will be able to delight in having their favourite person be part of their very own fairytale! 

These scenarios encourage bonding, trust and can be helpful way of enabling your child to work through communication and relationships.  It’s also a safe way for the child to practice control; knowing that in the game they have free rein to direct the parent, but when the play has finished, the parent is back in the driving seat. 

When a child is experiencing something difficult, such as a traumatic life event, play can be useful container for feelings they may not be able to name or understand.  Within the safe boundaries of play they can make sense of the situation that is causing them difficulty and find ways to work through these - this forms an important element to the role of play therapy and I am always happy to explain in more detail if you would like to find out more

Please feel free to call or email me to find out more. I am a child psychotherapist (UKCP Registered); a counsellor; arts and play therapist, covering Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. You can contact me here

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