Workshop E ~ Listening to Children`s Feelings

January 21, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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Listening to children’s emotions and feelings

Checking in

Background to non-directive play • Non-directive play therapy developed in the 1960’s out of the recognition that it is not always possible or best to try to identify and address children’s problems with a direct approach. • Although non-directive play therapy is a specialist field for professional play therapists many of the underlying principles can be applied to everyday situations when working with children. • Virginia Axline is a renowned play therapist who developed 8 principles for non-directive play that are still widely used today.

Summary of Axline’s Principles Adults should accept the child exactly as he/she is and provide an environment where children feel free to express their feelings completely. Adults should recognise the feelings the child is expressing and reflects those feelings back in a way that gives the child insight into his/her behaviour. Adults should respect children’s ability to solve their own problems if given the opportunity, giving the child the responsibility to make choices and to institute change. The child takes the lead in the play and the adult follows. Adults should give the child time to play and only put in place boundaries that are necessary for safety, such as ‘golden rules’.

Sand Tray Activity

Benefits of non-directive play • It is child-centred and child led, empowering children to resolve their own social and emotional difficulties. • Children are more likely to express their feelings freely in non-directive play. • The adult is more likely to tune into the child’s emotions and feelings, particularly tone of voice and body language in non-directive play. • The child receives the adult’s total attention by the adult entering, sharing and valuing the child’s world.

The Squiggle Game The Squiggle Game was developed by Donald Winnicott, a paediatrician and child psychiatrist working in the 1960’s to find an appropriate way to communicate with a young child. It is a fun pencil and paper technique for eliciting children’s thoughts and feelings. Winnicott started off by drawing a squiggle on a piece of paper; he then asked the child to add to it. Winnicott and the child took it in turns to draw something in response to the other’s squiggle.

Music activity The child chooses the instrument, the adult chooses the same instrument. The child plays the instrument and the adult mirrors how the child plays.

Therapeutic Stories Where a particular difficulty has been identified, therapeutic stories are a tool that can be used to support children. Therapeutic stories use metaphor to address emotional or unresolved difficulties in a language that children can relate to. The word metaphor itself is a metaphor, coming from a Greek word meaning to "transfer" or "carry across." Metaphors "carry" meaning from one word, image, or idea to another. In therapeutic stories the problem is addressed indirectly through a story.

Attunement and reflection The discipline of reflecting rather than asking questions and making comments takes practice. It can be challenging for practitioners, particularly if presented with behavioural difficulties. Behaviour can be disturbing to the observer and resisting the normal desire to rescue the child from their pain is hard.

Ways to support children’s feelings and emotions •

Acknowledging and reflecting back a child’s feelings “I can see you are feeling really angry about……”

Tune in to children’s feelings and follow their lead through non-directive play and creative activities.

If appropriate use therapeutic stories.

Persona dolls can be used to explore feelings in a non-directive way in circle time.

Social skills groups.

Acknowledgements • Thanks to St John’s C of E Primary School, Tisbury for the loan of instruments. • Thanks to Busy Bees Pre-school, Salisbury for the loan of instruments and their persona doll. • The powerpoint presentation and handouts on non-directive play, therapeutic stories and persona dolls will be available on the Bright Horizons website. If you would like information and advice about social skills groups contact your Early Years Inclusion Officer.

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