Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 5-10% of children worldwide.
Children with ADHD often struggle with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can make it difficult for them to succeed academically and socially. While medication and behavioural therapy are commonly used to treat ADHD, play therapy has emerged as a promising treatment option that can help children with ADHD learn to regulate their behaviour and emotions.
What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a type of therapy that uses play to help children express themselves, process their emotions, and learn new skills. It is often used with children between the ages of 3 and 12 struggling with emotional or behavioural issues and can take many forms, including games, art activities, storytelling, and role-playing. Particularly effective Play Therapy for children with ADHD provides a safe, non-judgmental space for them to learn and practice new skills.
How Play Therapy Helps Children with ADHD
Develops Executive Function Skills –
Executive function skills are the mental processes that help us plan, organize, and regulate our behaviour. A child with ADHD can often struggle with executive function skills, making it difficult for them to complete tasks and follow the rules. Play therapy encourages children to practice planning, problem-solving, and self-regulation in a fun and engaging way.
For example, a play therapist might set up a game that requires the child to follow a set of rules and use problem-solving skills to win. Through this game, the child can practice following rules and regulating their behaviour, which can transfer to other areas of their life.
Teaches Self-Regulation Skills –
ADHD children may struggle with impulsivity and emotional regulation. With activities such as role-playing and storytelling, play therapy can help them learn to recognise and regulate their emotions. A puppeteer might be used by a play therapist to act out a scenario in which a character expresses a strong emotion, such as rage or impatience. The youngster can then practise regulating their own emotions by responding calmly and thoughtfully to the puppet.
Provides a Safe Space for Emotional Expression –
We often notice that children with ADHD may experience intense emotions such as frustration, anger, and sadness. Therapy provides a safe space for children to express these emotions in a healthy way so that they feel more in control of their emotions and reduce the risk of outbursts or meltdowns.
For example, a therapist may use drawing or painting to encourage children to express and process their emotions and develop strategies for managing them in the future.
Improves Social Skills –
A struggle for kids with ADHD can be with social skills such as taking turns, listening to others and making friends. Play therapy can help children develop these skills by providing opportunities to practice social interactions in a fun and engaging way.
For example, a play therapist might set up a game that requires the child to work with others to complete a task. Through this game, the child can learn about cooperating and collaborating with peers.
Play therapy is a promising treatment option for children with ADHD. If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, consider exploring play therapy with Innate Therapies as a treatment option. We offer a safe, kind, conducive, and comfortable space for children to grow holistically and fundamentally with effective therapies!