Friendships and relationships are the core of our society. When parents are asked what they want most for their child, the answer often is ‘to have friends’. The core of our work at My Therapy HouseⓇ is in this area. We believe relationships are key to learning based on the evidence-based attachment theory approach to child development.
For a child to be able to play with others, they need to have an awareness of themselves and who they are in a relationship. They also need to learn that they can act on objects and make objects do things, as well as communicate their needs and desires and act on objects with others. They need to be able to trust others and feel that others will provide them a safe space to explore, play, be themselves and grow confidence in being a player.
In play development, the child learns to firstly play by themselves (solitary play), then notices and observes others play (onlooker play), then is able to play next to another (parallel play), then with another (associative and social play). Because of children’s learning and processing styles, they may take longer in each of the above stages. They may also require adult assistance to make meaning around what they are experiencing and observing. The key for children with processing challenges is to provide play opportunities (both in terms of objects, toys and people) which meet their sensory, learning and communication development needs. Again, these same questions can be raised as were in supporting a child’s attention and concentration: What draws the child in? What makes him or her stay? What makes the child leave? What draws him or her back into the play relationship?
Some children may be visually distracted by objects and toys and find it hard to shift their visual lens from an object to a person because of their visual spatial processing challenges. In this case, people and body games in tune with the child’s individual processing style would be explored.
If you have concerns about your child’s play or play with others and you would like information on how to best support them, please contact us for a consultation.