September 21, 2011

Let's Play "Doctor Doctor"

"For children to 'play out' their experiences and feelings is the most natural, dynamic and self-healing process in which children can engage." Garry Landreth

Little One has spent a fair amount of time around hospitals and Doctors in the past few months, having undergone two operations in the short space of three months. He has had blood drawn, injections, hep-locks in his hand - there have been a lot of needles involved!

After our first hospital stay, the impact of these events on his play was immediately evident. Suddenly he was playing "Doctor Doctor" every chance he got and the main story line of each little scenario was needles and injections - he and I swopping the patient/doctor role countless times. 

I share this because it's such a good example of the natural healing and therapeutic value that play has. We as adults can talk about our trauma and in so doing work through feelings like fear, anxiety and powerlessness, but children don't have these words, or ability to express them. These emotional experiences that are important to a child or have significantly impacted on them, will often show up as repeated behaviour in their play (Garry Landreth: Play Therapy. The Art of the Relationship). In play therapy, we refer to these as themes.

 (It's okay little dinosaur. It's all over. - Even a T-rex deserves top class medical care :))

After reading How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (Jane Yolen and Mark Teague), we added dinosaurs to the game and Little One has enjoyed treating the sick dinosaurs in hospital too. Recently I have noticed a marked decrease in his request for "Mommy, you're sick and I'm the Doctor". This probably means that he has sorted out some of his feelings about these experiences and is emotionally ready to move on. The healing power of play at work! :)

Stay tuned. Some more doctor-related fun coming up.


Km said...

Love him "at play"....."at work" sorting out all his emotions and feelings!! I think we can learn so much from children--instead of keeping all our feelings bottled up we could explore, play and talk about whats going on inside. I am so thankful for the lessons your little one is teaching me about bravery and healing! AND I am so happy that he is recovering beautifully!

Unknown said...

I have a Dino enthusiast at my house and we LOVE the entire "How do Dinosaurs" series. What a great activity to tie into this book.

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