Play Therapy Techniques to Try at Home

Play Therapy Techniques

In order to facilitate a child’s esteem and help her express herself verbally, mom can instil a few play therapy techniques at home during playtime with her child. We’ve compiled a list of Play Therapy techniques for you to try at home.

In play therapy, we reflect a child’s knowledge, interests, decisions, thoughts, emotions and behaviours back to them verbally. We also reinforce their efforts, independence and positive personality traits. Mom can use phrases such as “you worked very hard on that”, “you did that all by yourself”, and “that’s frustrated you a little”, etc.

Using emotive words will help a child develop an emotional vocabulary which she can use when she needs to express herself. This should reduce the need to act out physically or otherwise inappropriately when her thoughts and emotions are overwhelming her.

By reflecting a child’s behaviours, you make her feel as though you are present with her and that she is heard. It is safe, then, to express feelings and check her boundaries.

1. Emotional Check-ins

Mom and dad can further facilitate overall well-being at home by setting aside a time and place for an “emotional check-in” each day. This is when they reflect their child’s feelings back to her. This will help the child further develop her emotional vocabulary. In this time, there is no judgement for anything your child says, only unconditional positive regard.

2. Boundary Setting Script

A lot of parents struggle with setting boundaries with their children. We help our parents by providing them with a script to use to help things along. This script ensures the child’s needs are met and that they are heard while reinforcing what the rules are around certain issues. The more you use the script, the more effective it becomes and you will enjoy lasting results.

When correcting behaviour its important to remember to:

  1. Acknowledge the need.
  2. Set the boundary.
  3. Offer an alternative.

e.g. Your child interrupts you when you are speaking to someone else:

  1. “I know you want to talk to me right now.”
  2. “You need to please wait for me to finish what I’m saying to my friend.”
  3. “You will have my undivided attention when I am finished.”

e.g. Your child is refusing to go to bed at bedtime:

  1. “I know you would like to stay up later tonight.”
  2. “It’s a school night and you need to go to bed now.”
  3. “On Friday, we’ll watch a movie together and you can stay up later than usual then.”

When boundaries are being pushed:

  1. If you choose to act, you choose for me to react.
  2. Do what you say you’re going to.
  3. Reflect afterwards on your child’s choice.

e.g. your child is screaming to get her way after you have said no

  1. “If you choose to continue screaming, you choose for me to not understand you and I will have to leave.”
  2. If your child continues screaming, leave the room.
  3. “I’m sorry you chose for me to leave the room.

It’s important to reflect on good decisions too:

      “I’m glad you chose to stop screaming.”

3. Reinforce Good Behavior

Notice and reflect when your child is behaving the way you want them to. Even if you have to spy on them to find opportunities to do this, we recommend it as this is an extremely effective technique in building self-esteem.

  • giving a high-five
  • offering praise
  • giving a hug or pat on the back
  • giving a thumbs-up
  • clapping and cheering
  • telling another adult how proud you are of your child’s behaviour while your child is listening

Consider Play Therapy

Play Therapy takes place in a space that is safe and reassuring, allowing a child to express negative emotions effectively. They get to channel any form of aggression, facilitate self-esteem, and focus on overall happiness and wellbeing. This results in a steady progression of the level of school work and a reduction of possible problem behaviours in the classroom as well as at home so that a child may learn, develop and enjoy their life experience more optimistically.

Featured on

Recently we contributed to an article written by Warren Robertson for Leisurely, a South African lifestyle magazine. Our resident play therapist and Registered Counsellor, Brenda Leemans, chatted with Warren to discuss when to send a toddler to school.

Brenda added insight into the most important things to remember when facing this question. This is a question that has stressed out oodles of parents over the years. We hope that this article will offer you some insight. You can read the original article here and hopefully, it will help put your mind at ease.

Thank you, Warren!

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