Have you ever wondered what different toys foster in your child’s inner world? Let me tell you about a few of them.
Charles Schaefer, “the father of play therapy”, wrote a fantastic book called “The Therapeutic Powers of Play”. It’s a play therapy primer that all child specialists should have on their shelves. In it, he talks about the different powers of play. I’ve written about this before, but–in essence–he talks about the different benefits that play brings to a child’s life. Between its cathartic nature, the way it can foster direct and indirect teaching, and even the value it adds to a child’s self-esteem, among others.
In this article, however, I want to talk about the emotional power that 7 different toys add to your child’s inner world. And how you can foster these emotional powers by incorporating these toys into your child’s playroom.
When we give our children a small kitchen (or any food-related toys) to play with, we are helping them foster the emotional power of nourishment. Food is a universal symbol of love, care, and a nurturing relationship. When children favor these toys, they are indirectly “enriching” their inner world. It’s also a great toy to help them develop a healthier relationship with food and their own bodies, through the playing out of mindful eating.
As adults, money often becomes such an important issue in our lives. Yet, our relationship with it can be so unnecessarily uncomplicated. When money has a central theme in our children’s play, we can use this to foster in them a healthy relationship with their future finances. Any transaction-based type of play, can be potentially helpful to cultivate this financial wellness within our children.
3. Baby dolls
I’ve written before about gender bias and toys, but I’ll mention it again, just in case: Let Toys Be Toys! We often think dolls are only meant for girls, but the emotional power that lies within these type of toys is universal. When children play with toys, they can foster a sense of care and emotional responsibility that is so needed in adulthood. I think if we allowed boys to play with dolls more often, the domestic labor gap could minimize significantly in the next generations to come.
4. Doctor kit
When our children have the opportunity to play “doctor” with us, we are allowing them to explore their own vulnerability. Taking care of others and letting others take care of you, is a mental health dance that follows us through adulthood. The younger they understand this, the easier it is for them to acknowledge when they must take care of their health (both physical and emotional). And, the easier it is for them to seek their support system when need be.
In play therapy, we often use the dollhouse as a medium to understand more about family dynamics. At home, you can use this toy to foster in your children a sense of emotional respect. Particularly helpful for children who have siblings, we can use the dollhouse to ease the normal sibling rivalry that happens in all families. And, to validate the feelings your child might be having.
I’ve written before about the magic behind Lego’s, but I couldn’t help but include it in this list as well. The versatility that Lego brings into our children’s lives is incomparable. With Lego, children can: build, breakdown, re-build, and design as much and as often as their imagination pleases. They foster creativity, problem-solving skills, and mental flexibility. All emotional powers that are so important in adulthood.
What toy would you add to this list and in what way has it helped YOUR child’s inner world? Let me know in the comments below!