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How to Maintain Play Therapy Progress During Social Distancing

Social distancing child

If your child has been seen for play therapy in Highlands Ranch or Littleton, you know how important it is to get right in there, in person, and engage. Further, since play therapy is typically geared toward kids aged seven and younger , the importance of being in-person is even greater. Unlike tweens and teens who are fairly comfortable by phone, screen, or video (and who may even prefer it!), younger children often rely more heavily on body language, touch, and physical distance and space to create meaning. But in a world where staying home is the best health advice, different strategies must be adopted. Here are three great ways to maintain your play therapy progress during social distancing.

Model feelings and empathy.

A pandemic is the perfect time to model pro-social activities such as empathy, helping others, and compassion. Telling your child “we have to stay at home to keep everyone from getting sick” shows them that their temporary discomfort has great benefits. If relevant, use real-life examples like neighbors or grandparents and emphasize how we are helping others by making good choices like staying at home. Express gratitude  for health, family, and safety. Share your own frustrations, worries, and sadness in an age-appropriate way, and show your child that life still goes on while one is worried or bored. Help your child express these feelings through words, or bust out some art and music supplies for a multi-sensory feelings activity.

Schedule a parent session with your Littleton child behavior psychologist.

During the outbreak, psychologists in Littleton and Highlands Ranch are considered essential employees. This means that we are typically able to continue working unless we become sick or our entire building closes. In addition, many Littleton psychologists are offering telehealth services. While your little one is not likely to want to interact with a video psychologist, this can be an important time for parents to learn behavior management tools, parenting strategies, and to receive support.

Try a formal parenting tool, such as PCIT or 1, 2, 3, Magic.

If you feel you are in over your head (or, if you just have so much time on your hands you need a side project), try a formal parenting intervention tool. Parenting tools such as “1, 2, 3, Magic” are available online and focus on decreasing negative behaviors while increasing positives, all while strengthening the parent-child bond. Parent Child Interaction Therapy, or PCIT, is a structured form of engagement that turns you, the parent, into the therapist, encouraging emotional expression, prosocial behaviors, increased verbalization, and deeper connection. While this sort of therapy is often done using a room with a two-way mirror, telehealth could be a great setting. To find out more about these tools, contact your child psychologist in Littleton.

If you do schedule a telehealth visit with your psychologist, make sure to have your child “visit,” even if he or she is not able to engage very long. This will preserve the relationship and allow your child the chance to tell their therapist all the great things they’ve been doing. Just because everyday life has slowed down, it does not stop. Prepare today for a successful tomorrow.

Learn more about play therapy