I have frequently prescribed play therapy for children but recently I have prescribed it for several parents. This prescription has been written on several different occasions.
I have more than a handful of new parents (and even some seasoned parents) who are going to classes to learn how to play with their infants. Yes, there is a course (at least in my area) that actually goes through how to sit on the floor and play pat a cake, or play with blocks. It teaches parents how to get close to their baby’s face when talking to them, or how to play where is your nose or where are your eyes! They even have a curriculum and workbook. It is play therapy for a new parent who feels as if they need some guidance on how to interact and play with their baby.
But more recently I wrote a play therapy prescription for a parent after her daughter suggested it. I had actually sent the young girl for some play therapy due to some anxiety she had been having. She really enjoyed getting down on the floor and playing dolls and games with the therapist. At the end of one of the sessions she told the therapist that she “wished that her mom knew how to play dolls with her”. She said that her mom worked a lot and when she was home she was on her computer or cell phone. She just wanted her mother to spend some time with her playing! It sounds easy enough, but not for everyone. The good news is that the mother was quite receptive and once she and her daughter had spent some time in play therapy everyone was happy and the little girl’s anxiety seemed to go away.
Playing with your children is one of the joys of parenting, but some parents need to be reminded or even “re-taught” how to play. Playing does not need to be fancy or scripted, but just some one-on-one play time with your child. All children need play time, so make the time to play together.
So, as a pediatrician not all of my prescriptions are for the children, sometime it is “us” parents who need the prescription.