‘U ‘N’ Me Playtime is from the training manual
The ‘Why and How’ to Develop the Play of Children, creativetherapies.net/store/
Play is the Language of Children Be in the Moment
I tried to teach my child with books, he gave me only puzzled looks.
I tried to teach my child with words, they passed him by often unheard
Despairingly I turned aside, “How shall I teach this child?” I cried.
Into my hand he put the key, “come,” he said, “play with me.”
Messages: I am here! I am your witness! I understand! I care!
1. Schedule three – 20 minute, one-on-one blocks of playtime daily. This is ideally with the same rhythm each day, such as after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ideally your time together is relaxed and your attention continuous. Strive to be calm and not preoccupied with any outside interference or distractions. All screens and other potential interruptions including alerts are turned off.
2. Inform, “It is now time for our special U ‘N’ Me Playtime ©.” Allow him or her to enter into play (no screens, electronics or store purchased games with rules). Let him or her take the lead, decide what to do and how to play. Trust the journey, allowing him or her to take you along on his or her exploration, discovering and reworking issues regardless of where you may think they are. If he or she was already engaged in play, casually observe until you find an ‘entry point,’ meeting the child where he or she is in the play. It is okay to use ‘How’ and ‘What’ for clarification of how and what to do: “How many trains should I have?” or “What shall I have her (my doll) say?”
3. Plan for this to be a non-directive, ideally non-corrective interaction. During the U ‘N’ Me Playtime © it will be tempting, but you must refrain from questions, suggestions, commands, interpreting, evaluating, giving directions and teaching. This is critical to the effectiveness of following what flows from within the child.
4. Describe exactly what you see and what he or she is doing using your Curative Language Skill #1, Tracking. Observe and narrate the ongoing play in positive terms. Keep language simple, generally under 10 words per statement. As you progress over the first few experiences, you will decide when to add in other Curative Language Skills. During Creative Therapies training, clinicians found it helpful to write the language reminders, color coding them by skill, on index cue cards they stuck on the play therapy walls, for instance, “You are…” was in red representing, Tracking.
5. Provide concise, non-judgmental statements occasionally noticing his/her positive behavior, especially those behaviors you’d like to reinforce in hopes of seeing more of! Remember, whichever behavior you put your attention on – he/she will give you more of, so encourage accordingly. For instance, “I notice…how cooperative you are being; “I see…you are being flexible;” and “You are… generous… kind… thoughtful… gentle… “I am grateful…we have this time together.”
6. Ignore mildly inappropriate behaviors. If he or she continues, turn away for a moment then return to playing. If the behavior becomes disruptive, destructive, or abusive then say, “I will return to play with you in 6 minutes” (or whatever is the same number of minutes as he/she is years old). Set a timer and absolutely reenter the play as you said you would. Do not mention the previous behavior and finish what is left of the twenty minutes.
7. The first few U ‘N’ Me Playtime© experiences, can be challenging because of the unfamiliar process, orientation, and the language that is sometimes described as awkward. Hang in there, often initially caretakers give too many commands; want to teach; and say too few positive comments. It takes practice but the benefits of his learning to play are for a lifetime.
8. Other benefits include: The rebuilding of your relationship; The improvement of his/her listening skills; A reduction in your criticism and negative feedback; The increase in feelings his and your self worth, confidence and security; The development of a more positive attitude towards each other; and He/She will be calmer and time together will become more enjoyable.