Play Therapy Toolbox: Building Strong Social Skills
Is your child struggling to interact with their peers at school?
Maybe they withdraw and hide?
Perhaps they throw toys/hit other children?
Or maybe they struggle to share or engage in group play?
If this sounds like your kiddo, they may be struggling with SOCIAL SKILLS.
Children who struggle with social skills often have a range of challenges that impact their interpersonal interactions and relationships. A child may find it difficult to initiate or maintain conversations, experience heightened anxiety in social settings, struggle with understanding social cues, or encounter challenges in making and keeping friends. Some children may exhibit behaviors such as isolation, withdrawal, or aggression as coping mechanisms for their social difficulties.
Social skills challenges can stem from various sources, including developmental differences, learning disabilities, attention disorders, attachment issues, or experiences of bullying or rejection. Seeking therapy for social skills is a proactive and supportive step parents can take to help their child navigate and overcome these obstacles, providing them with the tools and confidence needed to THRIVE in social environments.
How does Play Therapy at BPC in Houston, TX Help Improve Social Skills?
Play therapy serves as a powerful and effective tool for enhancing social skills in children, providing a unique and engaging approach that taps into children’s primary language – play. During play therapy, children not only enjoy the therapeutic process but also emerge with a new set of social skills! As they play, explore, and express themselves in a supportive environment, children build a foundation for healthy social interactions that will benefit them throughout their lives.
- EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION: One significant way play therapy contributes to social skill development is through the promotion of effective communication. Play serves as a non-threatening way for children to express themselves, fostering the development of verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Whether it’s engaging in role-play scenarios, interactive games, or storytelling, children learn to name and express their thoughts and feelings, ultimately improving their ability to connect with others.
- COOPERATION AND TEAMWORK: Moreover, play therapy is effective in teaching children the importance of cooperation and teamwork. Many of the activities within the play therapy sessions involve collaborative efforts, be it through board games, art projects, or imaginative play scenarios. Through these shared experiences with their play therapist, children learn to navigate the complexities of working together, developing skills essential for building and maintaining positive relationships.
- EMPATHY: Another valuable part of social skills is developing empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Engaging in various play activities allows children to step into different roles, understand diverse perspectives, and develop a sense of empathy.
- EMOTIONAL REGULATION: Additionally, play therapy contributes to a child’s emotional regulation, an important component of effective social skills. As children engage in creative and expressive play, they learn to recognize and manage their own emotions while developing an understanding of the emotions of others. This forms the basis for healthy connections and friendships!
Ways to Practice Social skills at Home
Parents play a crucial role in supporting and enhancing their children’s social skills, and there are various simple ways to practice and reinforce these skills at home between therapy sessions!
1. Play Dates and Social Gatherings: Organizing play dates or small gatherings at your home provides an excellent opportunity for children to interact with peers in a familiar setting. Encourage cooperative play, sharing, and taking turns during these sessions. Provide a variety of games and activities that promote teamwork, fostering a positive social environment.
2. Family Game Nights: Incorporate board games, card games, or team-based video games into family game nights. These activities not only provide entertainment but also promote social skills like turn-taking, following rules, and good sportsmanship. Through friendly competition or collaboration, children learn valuable lessons in navigating social dynamics.
Here are some of our favorite games: Bright Spots Thoughts and Feelings Melissa and Doug Suspended Family Game Would You Rather Picture Card Game Trading Faces – The Silly Game of Emotional Intelligence Kluster Strategy Game
3. Encourage Hobbies and Group Activities: Supporting children in pursuing hobbies or joining group activities outside the home allows them to interact with peers who share similar interests. Whether it’s joining a sports team, group therapy, or an art class these experiences provide valuable opportunities for social growth.
How to begin Play Therapy at BPC In Houston, TX Can Help Your Family
Our expert child therapists are extensively trained and passionate about helping your child develop the social skills they need to thrive in their relationships. Are you ready to begin play therapy for social skills? Give us a call at 713-364-8645 or schedule a FREE phone consultation using the link below!