Funosaurus is out to play
Cheryl Hastings put on a dinosaur costume and made a bunch of 搒illy?videos, all with her young clients in mind.
Struck by their response, the play therapist then decided to do the same for the general public. Her thought: stuck at home for weeks, grown-ups might forget how important it was for kids to have fun.
The videos are now free for watching on Facebook. She hopes it is the start of 揳n online play community?
揟he videos are to encourage children and their carers to play, just have fun,?said Ms Hastings, who works with children from the age of three through primary school.
揑 had these inflatable dinosaur suits, which I got a couple of Christmases ago that we kept. I thought this would be a fun thing to do, to dress up. It just makes things a bit more entertaining. So that抯 what I抳e been doing ?dressing up in dinosaur suits.?/p>
She got her own kids involved in the videos too. Like his mother, 12-year-old Monty dresses as a dinosaur; Elsie, 15, narrates whatever is going on.
揑 thought I might as well share them with my Creative Rumpus Facebook page so other children could have a look and enjoy,?said Ms Hastings, who has posted just under 20 videos so far.
揚arents aren抰 used to thinking about different ways and different types of play and what helps a child, especially emotionally.?/p>
Something as simple as a pillow fight offers just the type of release that children need, she added.
揅hildren need to be aware of their physical ability, they need to be able to engage safely with a bit of rough play. It抯 about inspiring people to think about doing something different and making the children want to try it because there抯 a silly dinosaur [who does it]. It抯 about fun.?/p>
With all the changes brought by Covid-19, it is especially important that young children抯 emotional needs are met.
揥e抳e got a totally different environment happening where parents have got a lot of stresses going on. The world has changed dramatically for the child; they抮e no longer in the routine they normally have ?with the contacts and peer relationships who support them, the outside adults who support them.
揚lay is so important. It can help them connect, not only with their carers, but also with their emotional wellbeing. Children, when they抮e young, they抮e not going to say 慖 feel sad?or 慖 feel angry?or 慖 feel confused? but they can show it.?/p>
Ten minutes of child-led play time a day should be enough for them to express themselves in a way parents can understand, the therapist said.
揑t makes a dramatic difference. The child can show the parent how they抮e feeling and the parent can reflect back to that child: that piggy looks like it抯 having a tough time right now. Acknowledge what抯 happening in the child抯 world.
揑n the school environment they would be doing that. They would be learning through play: counting pebbles, looking at things from nature to make it engaging and kinetic.
揑t抯 hard to do that when children are in a small environment at home and maybe just limited to electronic materials or paper and pens.
揑t抯 just trying to open up, so it involves children抯 different senses. It makes it a fun experience for them and it can build relationships with people in their home.?/p>
A change in behaviour would be an obvious clue that a child is in need of help. Changes to their sleeping or eating patterns might also indicate they are struggling.
Ms Hastings said: 揗aybe they are disengaged from the rest of the family and spending time alone or maybe their mood swings are changing, they抮e more extreme.
揑t抯 watching your child and seeing what they抮e showing you and acknowledging what they抮e showing you. If help is needed, then ask for help. There抯 quite a lot of services now who抳e opened up to offering Zoom meetings and support.?/p>
In that vein, she is hoping her Facebook page is the start of a community where people lend their support to others and offer different ideas of play.
揥hat I抦 aiming at is primary school age, but we抳e been getting in the dinosaur suits. My children are 12 and 15, and we抮e laughing and having fun. Everybody needs to play.
揑f carers spend a little bit of time watching their child, playing with their child, they will learn so much about what抯 going on in their child抯 world. If they抮e engaged, they抣l be able to help their child more in this difficult time.?/p>
?To join Cheryl Hastings抯 online play community look for Creative Rumpus on Facebook. Post photos or comments using #DinoPlay Challenge. Learn more about play therapy at creativerumpus.com
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