The Cure for Stuck

Posted on by John Olesnavage

As a therapist I often see children who are “stuck.”  These are children who are trapped in anger, rage, and depression.   When parents ask me what they can do, I often suggest a simple starting point.  “Play with your child.”  I do not mean play designed to analyze or manipulate, and I do not mean the child should be given a toy and told to play.  Parents must initiate and join in because typically the child is too angry to do so themselves.

The kind of play that works has no agendas.  It is simply play.  You know it is effective when you feel engaged and there are smiles and laughter.  It may or may not involve toys.  It can be making a clicking finger sound, or making a pretend plane fly through the air.  You will know when it is “right” when you have joined with the child’s rhythm, or the child joins with yours, whether it is swinging arms, clicking fingers, singing, or hopping around.   Believe me, there is always a rhythm to happy, healing play.

When a child’s boundary is stuck it lacks flexibility.   Play restores flexibility and sets the stage for co-creating new space that allows the child to experience and see new possibilities.

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