How playing can reduce anxiety in children

2 Comments

 

child-playing

Research suggests that children can become anxious if they have too little time for free play. Barnett (1984) assessed children on their anxiety levels on their first day at nursery school. It was found that the children who were able to play freely had lower levels of anxiety than those who had to listen to stories. This supports the view that play allows children to work through their conflicts and anxiety.

The case of Dibs, a 5-year old boy who showed very disturbed behaviour shows the importance of play for dealing with issues (Axline, 1947). Dibs was referred to Axline, a clinical psychologist specialising in play therapy, for very disturbed behaviour. His parents thought he might be brain damaged. Axline watched Dibs’ play carefully to look for emotional reasons for his disturbed behaviour. Dibs often played with dolls that represented his family and in one instance, he buried a doll representing his father in the sand. This was interpreted as hostility towards his father. Axline was able to uncover Dibs’ conflicts and problems through the therapy. Dibs’ relationship with his parents improved as did his behaviour at school. Dibs IQ was tested after the therapy and he scored in the top 1% of the population. By then he had no emotional difficulties.

Sloan (1999) examined whether play therapy could be used to reduce aggressive behaviour in children in New York. The study found that play therapy is effective for reducing aggressive behaviour.

toys.jpg

How can a parent use play at home to deal with anxiety?

Parents can use toy figures and role play to work through fears and other issues with their children. For example, if your child is worried about going to the doctors, you can role play doctors with them or encourage them to play doctors with their dolls or teddies. If your child is frightened of the dark, you can pretend that a toy figure is being put to bed in the dark and your child can talk about their fears. Another toy figure can be used to dispel fears. Any monsters or ghosts that turn up in the role play can be changed into something non-threatening. You can get your child to imagine what the toy figures/dolls would do if they were very brave (Jay et al., 1987).

 

Want to read more about parenting? Download my free parenting ebook at http://www.fayecarlisle.com

Want your child to read more? Read ‘The Fortress’, a fantasy  adventure story aimed at 7- to 10-year-olds.

Advertisements

What type of parent are you? Take the Quiz

Leave a comment

parent-child

Find out what type of parent you are by taking the quiz.

  1. You go to parents’ evening and the teacher complains about your child’s behaviour. What do you do?

a) You ask the teacher what they’re doing wrong.

b) As soon as you get home, you shout at your child and take away TV privileges for a month

c) When you get home, you talk to your child about their behaviour, plan with them how to change it and take away TV privileges for the weekend.

 

lazy-child

2. The living room is a mess after your child has had their friend round. What do you do?

a) Tidy up yourself.

b) Shout at them and make them tidy up.

c) Ask them to tidy up with you helping.

toys

3. Your child hits another child in the playground. What do you do?

a) Ignore it and let them sort it out themselves.

b) Shout at your child and drag them home immediately.

c) Make your child say sorry and take away a privilege when you get home.

 

4. You go to the toy shop to buy a birthday present for a friend’s child and your child says that they want one too. What would you do?

a) Buy it to keep the peace.

b) Lecture them about not expecting things every time you go shopping.

c) Tell them no but say that can save up for the toy with their pocket money or say they can put it on their birthday or Christmas list.

toy-shop

5. The main job of a parent is to do what?

a) Make your child feel happy.

b) Teach them to have manners and behave well.

c) Teach them to manage their emotions and make good choices.

 

If you chose mainly As, then you are a permissive parent.

If you chose mainly Bs, then you are an authoritarian parent.

If you chose mainly Cs, then you are an authoritative parent.

There are three main parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative and permissive.

Authoritarian parents expect their instructions and orders to be obeyed without question. They are more likely to punish their children for misdemeanours than other parents and offer fewer explanations. Children whose parents adopt an authoritarian approach are more likely to rebel or distance themselves from their parents as they grow older (Thomson et al. 2003).

Authoritative parents set clear boundaries for their children but are less likely to use punishment as a form of discipline. They are also more likely to use praise and rewards. They are responsive to their children but also have high expectations for behaviour. This type of parenting is related to children feeling a sense of responsibility for their actions and the children are less likely to rebel when they are older (Baumrind, 1971).

Permissive parents find it difficult to say no to their children and do not reprimand their children for inappropriate behaviour. Children of permissive parents are more likely to engage in risky behaviours that put themselves in danger and are more likely to take illegal drugs or drink heavily and behave badly a school (Lamborn et al., 1991). Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between being understanding and kind and setting clear boundaries.

The key characteristics of an effective parent are: warmth and involvement, clear communication of expectations, reasoning, allowing your child to voice their opinion and general pleasantness (Robinson et al., 1995). Some parents can be too controlling, critical, restrictive or punitive. At the other extreme, parents can be too relaxed and ignore their child’s misbehaviour (Robinson et al. 1995).

Research suggests that taking the middle ground in terms of discipline is best.

Want to get a free parenting ebook? Go to www.fayecarlisle.com

Want your child to read more? Read the Fortress, a fantasy adventure story aimed at 7-10 year olds.

 

 

 

 

How do you deal with a competitive child?

Leave a comment

boy-football

My 8-year-old son is naturally competitive. I can relate to this as I’ve always been pretty competitive myself although I try to hide it!

I have often told my son that it doesn’t matter whether he wins or loses and that it’s the taking part that counts but I know that this statement goes in one ear and out the other.

Recently, he said to me that he didn’t want to go to a football party because he was afraid how he would react if he was on the losing team. He said that some of the other boys taunt him when they win and he finds this difficult to handle. When he told me this, we talked about strategies to deal with his emotions.

football-team

Rather than tell him what to do, I asked him to think about ways he could deal with the situation himself. He said that he had tried in the past to say that it didn’t matter when he was being taunted but it hadn’t helped. We went through a few scenarios, which involved more conflict so in the end, I suggested that he make an excuse to go to the toilet if he started feeling angry.

One of the things I do with my son when he gets worked up is practise mindfulness. Here are a few techniques I have used:

  • Lie down and imagine all the things you are happy about. Now imagine them coming down on you like a shower of happiness.
  • Visualisation: Softly close your eyes. Allow the picture in your mind to become blank. You are going to imagine a place that feels comfortable, safe, and relaxing. Think of your place. It might be the beach, a lake, or even your own bed. Imagine it slowly appearing before you, becoming more and more clear. Look to your left. What do you see? Look to your right. What is over there? Look closer. Breathe in. What do you smell? Walk around your place. Look closer at certain things. Stay focused on your place. How are you feeling? If you find your thoughts wandering, observe them, and then focus on bringing the image of your place back into focus in front of you. (Allow some time.) When you are ready, put your hand in front of your eyes. Open your eyes. Slowly spread your fingers to allow light in. When you are ready, slowly remove your hand.
  • Bubble meditation: Begin by sitting in a comfortable position, with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Softly close your eyes. Imagine bubbles slowly rising up in front of you. Each bubble contains a thought, feeling, or perception.See the first bubble rise up. What is inside? See the thought, observe it, and watch it slowly float away. Try not to judge, evaluate, or think about it more deeply. Once it has floated out of sight, watch the next bubble appear. What is inside? Observe it, and watch it slowly float away. If your mind goes blank, then watch the bubble rise up with “blank” inside and slowly float away.

child-and-bubble

Another technique I try at bedtime when he finds it difficult to sleep is a body scan. This involves asking him to focus us on different parts of his body at a time starting at the feet and working up the body to the head.

I’m pleased to say that my son enjoyed the football party he went to and there were no arguments.

In addition to teaching my son relaxation techniques, I make sure that I don’t ask him about the outcome of any football, rugby or chess game too much. He recently went to a chess tournament and instead of asking him whether he won or lost the game after each match, I asked him whether he enjoyed it and whether it was a good game. The focus on the process of the game rather than winning or losing hopefully takes the pressure off him.

 

Want to get a free parenting ebook? Subscribe to www.fayecarlisle.com

Want to get your child to read more? Read ‘The Fortress’, a fantasy adventure story aimed at 7-10 year olds.