The Therapeutic Value Of Play Therapy In The Hospitalized Child
In routine daily care of the hospitalized child in the pediatric department, careful consideration should be given by the nurse to the emotional needs of the child and to his instruction and guidance. For a child this experience is not routine, and the child may be very insecure and frightened by his new environment.
The child may feel frustrated and "to play it out is the most natural self-healing measure child affords."1 Through play, the child can work out his feelings or emotions. He may also reveal hidden problems in this way. These problems can be guided toward a solution by an observant nurse; one who is aware of the child’s two basic needs, namely those of love and placing limitations on activity to provide safety and to promote security. The child should have freedom to explore the environment within these limitations. The child may show pent-up emotions such as anger, rejection, a longing for security: or he may reveal his attitude toward others such as his parents or a brother or sister through active and imaginative play. In games and the use of selected toys, the child purposefully uses muscles which need exercise while he acquires manual skills and learns the joy of imaginative play.
An adult should be close by to protect the child from fear of his own instincts, from destroying property, and from hurting other children. Unacceptable behavior should be channeled to more acceptable ways. This is accomplished by ignoring this unacceptable behavior in the sense of giving no immediate comment or attention to it unless the child is infringing on the rights of the other children.
The child’s play activities must be adapted to his individual needs. Not only does the stage of convalescence and the degree of activity allowed each child differ, but individual interests are almost unlimited. The attention span of the child varies according to his age and his physical condition.