One of my favorite things about working as an OT is witnessing how many creative ways a child (or any person) can choose to express themselves.
I get to use this awareness daily in my work with kids.
I personally chose to use a book to offer certain tools, encouragement, and resilience-building through the story of Joseph, Gretchen, and the Hypnozoids, but writing is only one of many ways we can impact our own behavior and that of others.
Cue Nic* and his dad.
They love to rap. It’s a form of connection between them, yes, but it’s also deeply powerful sensory work (even if they don’t realize it).
Nic decided to take the work we’ve done together and the messages of Mission: Control! A Big Feelings Adventure! and turn it into his own rap. He wants to easily remember the tools for calming his own Big Feelings and music helps him do just that. I had the pleasure of coming alongside as a backup singer and support.
From the outside, it just looks like a simple way Nic and I passed the time working together that day.
But the reality is that music is a powerful tool for integrating important messages into the body and mind. Supporting Nic as he turned his work into music activated important parts of his brain, turning “playtime” into a healing, supportive, and teaching moment.
By joining him right where he was, with his love for rap, he was able to learn important life skills, like managing his Big Feelings, or in other words, how to self-regulate. Instead of turning to a tantrum, he can turn to the wisdom of his song. This is a gift we can give every child—eyes to see them where they are and permission to express, learn, and grow from right there.
Play is an essential tool for children and adults alike to work through the challenges we face. As you can see with Nic, children are often less inhibited with their play, and thus work through challenges with apparent ease. Adults, however? Well, we’ve got some playing to do.
Joining your kiddo as I joined Nic gives you an opportunity to activate your brain for healing, connection, and resilience-building too!
You may not see immediately how this rap is changing Nic’s life, but it is—by integrating both hemispheres of his brain as he uses the right-brained creativity and the left-brained use of language and learning. An integrated brain is a healthy brain!
Nic hopes our (less than) two-minute song will encourage other kids to believe they can manage Big Feelings too.
“That’s how your brain grows, man, you can do that,
that’s why we made this awesome rap!”
How do you see the kids in your life play?
What are some fun ways you like to play?
How can you strategically join their play and weave it into a tool for positive change?
Leave your comments below—we can all grow from sharing how we play!
*Identifying information has been changed to honor confidentiality