Aggressive Play Therapy as a Means For Emotional Release
Play therapy is a mental health modality used by therapists to help children process and learn from stressful situations, trauma, and painful emotions. This type of therapy creates a safe space for children to express themselves through playing, something that already comes naturally to them. Play therapy uses a number of techniques to help children such as real-life acting with dolls and dress-up clothes, creative expression using art supplies, and aggressive play to help with big emotions. For today’s discussion, let’s look at aggressive play.
The word aggressive often brings with it negative connotations. However, aggressive play can be a fantastic tool when used in a therapeutic setting. Aggressive play therapy is used when a child needs to express anger, relieve physical tension and/or learn boundaries.
Children feel anger just like adults but often times they don’t have a safe space or they don’t know how to express that anger safely. In a play therapy environment, children can use aggressive toys to vent their anger. Play therapy spaces often include aggressive animals such as dinosaurs, sharks, and alligators which children can use to act out what is happening in their lives. Therapists find that when a child uses animals as opposed to a person or doll, it feels safer to show difficult situations or choices that they are facing. Instead of reliving something such as parents fighting, a child can show the same fight with two dinosaurs which gives the therapist valuable insight into the child’s mind while still allowing him or her to feel secure.
|Shark figure||Alligator figure||Dinosaur figure|
Along with anger often comes physical tension. This tension builds up in a child’s little body and if not given an effective outlet will eventually explode outward in the form of physical violence, breaking things, etc. Aggressive play therapy allows children to move their bodies in a way that relieves the physical tension caused by anger. Play therapists often have “toys” in their rooms which are allowed to be broken, such as egg cartons and bubble wrap or toys that can be smashed and pounded such as clay or Play-doh. Additionally, the use of foam swords and rubber knives which can be swung and hit into other objects allows for emotional release.
Lastly, aggressive play therapy helps to teach children boundaries. When swinging a foam sword at the therapist or a family member, they can learn just how hard they can swing without causing pain, and they can do this in a way that doesn’t cause permanent damage as the sword is made of foam. They can also learn how quickly they can move without falling down and hurting themselves. This type of play also allows them to learn how to take a break if someone gets tired and then how to jump back into the game after resting.
Some parents look at aggressive play with concerns that it will create aggressive children in the long run. However, studies show that although aggression may increase slightly directly after playing with aggressive toys, it is temporary. Furthermore, studies show that allowing children to have an outlet for anger and intense emotions makes it less likely that they will display those emotions when dealing with their parents, other adults, and peers. We simply can’t tell children not to get mad anymore than we can say the same to adults. We all get angry from time to time, but the key to stopping that anger from getting out of control is helping children know how to deal with their anger in a productive and healthy way.
Safari LTD and Aggressive Toys for Play Therapy
At Safari LTD we are proud to support play therapists and their goals of helping children live fuller and happier lives through play therapy. We are pleased to say that our toys are often used by Licensed Social Workers in their play therapy rooms, and it inspires us to keep making more toys that will help children learn and grow. When it comes to aggressive play therapy, we offer a wide variety of dinosaurs and other aggressive animals such as sharks, lions, bears, and snakes.
|Lion toy||Bear toy||Snake toy|
All of our toys are crafted with children in mind. This means that they are made of non-toxic plastic materials that are durable, washable, and the perfect size for little hands. We know that children love to play and we believe that play therapy is a useful tool in helping children resolve personal challenges in a safe and comfortable setting. It is our honor to make toys which help to make play therapy spaces more effective, and we hope to continue to help play therapists around the world make safe spaces for children.