"To the world you may be one person...but to one person you may be the world..."

About Me

I grew up in a village of 500 people and now live in a beach town of 10 000. Wife to Jeff, Mama to Makenna and Jack. This is my place to share what's up with us, and the place where I sometimes need to pour my heart out about the not so sunshiney moments. This is my happy place. Thanks for stopping by :) Copyright 2012 by Melissa Wormington, that no part of this blog may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, without permission from the publisher.
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The Wormingtons

The Wormingtons
Jeff, Makenna, Jack and Melissa. Spring 2012. Photo credit: Tricia Denomme/Hope Photography

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Power of Playdough

I'm back to work. I work in social services. I work as a family resource worker, leading playgroups, supporting and educating families, advocating, etc etc. At all of our playgroups there is a craft table. On it there is some type of sensory material - usually playdough or floam. I have noticed something interesting in the last little bit - more of the adults are playing with this stuff than the kids are. It got me thinking. Any good therapist/counsellor usually has something sensory in their office that their clients can make use of during their sessions. It's a distraction...something to focus on while you are discussing things that are troublesome, worrisome, important or uncomfortable. I have noticed this very same thing during our playgroups. A parent may feel a bit awkward playing with a "toy", but having that playdough infront of them seems hard to resist. After a couple mins they usually don't even notice they have it anymore...or sometimes they are so engrossed in what they are building with it, the words come a lot easier - once they start they can't stop it seems. It's as if playing with this stuff gives them courage to say things they wouldn't have otherwise. Sometimes they still don't say much, but you can tell there's a lot on their minds, and somehow, the playdough as helpful. If I know someone needs to talk, or seems troubled, I like to have it nearby, because more often than not, the person will end up using it. Here is something they have some control over, they can manipulate, can squeeze, can hit, can pound, can roll, can flatten, can break apart and put back together, and actually, the more they do that, the better it works. It feels good, it smells good, and provides a release. Sometimes they have no idea all this is going on, to them they are just playing with the playdough while their kid does a puzzle or colours a picture, because they are bored, but through the conversations that we have, and through observation, I can tell this is a very useful tool in my line of work. Here I have suggested it's power with adults, in my line of work it goes without saying how useful it is in working with children who have a story to tell. Using something like playdough when counselling children is a given. So, as an adult, if you are feeling stressed out, blue, overwhelmed or at a loss, go buy some playdough...or make your own...the kind you used to have as a child...sit at your desk or the table while you're trying to make the decision, trying to figure out where it all went wrong, or what to do next, how to make it all right...roll the playdough around in your hands and after awile you'll forget it's even there. Sometimes the words and/or the thoughts flow more easily if the hands are distracted and you feel some sense of control. You may be surprised at how helpful something so simple, so seemingly juvenile, can be.