Bullying Featured — 03 October 2011
Using Play Therapy to Combat Bullying

Conventional therapy has always been a daunting prospect for parents and caregivers, particularly when the child has been diagnosed with special needs. The thought of leaving your child alone in a therapeutic environment is difficult, as we all want to be fully present when we offer our support. However, many traditional counseling approaches advocate a one-to-one session, which leaves little room for the parent to be present.

Luckily, play therapy has gradually grown in significance as health professionals realize the huge benefits that can come from approaching problem-solving in a relaxed and fun way. Rather than leaving counseling and therapy to healthcare professionals, it’s gradually becoming accepted that not only can parents and teachers be instrumental in child development through play therapy – they are actually just as qualified, and at times more experienced, in bringing out the best qualities of the child through therapy than a stranger may be. This is an ideal solution for supporting the victims of bullying, who often need extra reassurance and support to boost their confidence again.

What’s different about play therapy?

The objective of all therapies is to encourage development in children, overcoming frustration, boredom, shyness or reticence in favor of drawing the child out through a series of methodologies. In play, children forget much of their discomfort on the therapeutic environment, and the best part of the process is that play therapies can be undertaken at home, with the parent, or at school with the teacher or support worker. There is not a child on our planet who doesn’t lose themselves a little in playing, and their imaginative capabilities and natural inclination for creativity come to the fore.

Play therapy capitalizes on this natural response to relaxed, informal situations, using a range of specific techniques designed to support improved development, encourage positive communications and strengthen the relationship between the child and caregiver.

How parents can use play therapy to beat bullying

The main way the parent can support, reinforce and advance progress made through play therapy is to join in. there are few more rewarding situations for a child than their favorite adult taking time out of their schedule to sit down, join in and really play. Having an adult beside them helps the children feel confident and comfortable in the activities, validating them with a real sense of approval which makes the play session take on greater value and enjoyment. Often, a child who has been bullied looks for the reassurance which their preferred adult provides, and play is an ideal scenario to explore issues safely.

Collaborative play provides a wealth of opportunities for challenging the child in positive ways, supporting and encouraging them to reach out for higher goals and offering an ideal chance to achieve targets. In play, the combative and at times intimidating rules which govern many other environments, including the classroom, are completely removed in favor of relaxed, focused fun.

Parents will always be the very best people to practice play therapy, because they know their child well enough to be able to push without overtaxing, encourage without placing stress on their child, and support and encourage with humor, patience and a full knowledge of what could be achieved, and how to get the best out of their kids. Never underestimate your role in your child’s development – as their very first companion in play, you’re the ideal playmate when it comes to using play as progressive therapy. Because of this, parents of victims of bullying will often find they get dramatic results by sharing playtime with their child, and exploring sensitive issues in a safe environment.

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About Author


Jennifer Syrkiewicz is a published author (two novels one volume of poetry), studied English in the UK at Sussex, East Anglia and then York university. She earned a diploma in journalism, NLP practitioner status, Prince2 qualifications. She’s also the mother of a very cute little girl.

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