One of my daughter’s favourite games is to play “monsters” where she and I will hide from the monsters.
What is so special about this game?
Well nothing I suppose, in so far as every game a child plays is “special”, but I have chosen to talk about this game as I decided to try and influence the game at the weekend.
Childrens’ emotions are expressed in other ways
Children can’t express the emotions they feel as well as adults (and that’s not to say that adults are particularly good at it either) and they don’t have the life experiences and knowledge of how to deal with them that age brings.
How they learn to deal with these emotions is through playing with them.
By building scenarios and fantasy play, they can experiment and learn about the emotion and how they can deal with it.
In order to play with an emotion, they have to find a way to externalise the emotion so that they can then interract and experiment with it.
In this example, my daughter is experimenting with fear and she has externalised it into an object or objects called monsters
As you can see, she is experimenting with an approach of running away and hiding from the monsters (things that scare her), and I am attempting to introduce into the play a different strategy for dealing with the scary monsters:
…Being just as scary and dangerous as the monsters
Boys and Girls
Of course boys tend to deal with monsters in a more physical and confrontational way than girls, so while I am trying to encourage a more physical and aggressive way of dealing with things that scare my daughter, parents of boys may want to think about ways of introducing more caring or thoughtful approaches to dealing with monsters. That’s not to say that I shan’t be playing sneaky ways of getting the monsters with Olivia too…
…Maybe we’ll surprise them and cover them in goo! Or make them look silly…
…Or maybe we’ll team up and I’ll chase them while she lays a trap that will capture them so that she can then take them to (a fantasy) school and teach them how to be nice… (notice how that then allows the play to move on in to another area altogether – which I shall talk about another time)
Do share any ideas you have for dealing with monsters or if you notice the themes in your kids’ play and how you could introduce new ways of interacting with the emotions attached to them.
Follow up question
I was asked a question about monsters and why I’m always chosen to be the monster. Checkout my answer here