The Serious Business of Play at Tweddle

The Serious Business of Play at Tweddle

By Kerrie Gottliebsen

With thanks to two Pilot programs supported by the Collier Charitable Fund and The Phyllis Connor Memorial Trust, Tweddle has embedded therapeutic play facilitation at Tweddle.

Tweddle’s two new play practitioners are Stephanie and Liz who work in groups and one-on-one with parents, babies and toddlers.

In their roles, Stephanie and Liz support children and their families to experience play as the child’s first language. Through song, movement, talking, laughter, stillness, waiting, watching and wondering, their support helps families to understand the importance of play to baby’s development, attachment and infant mental health.

Embedding a play therapy model to the residential playroom is helping parents get to know and love their children through play. Staff work alongside Liz and Stephanie while they demonstrate observational techniques and activities. Through play, babies and toddlers learn that the world can be safe, consistent and predictable, to develop trust and that feelings (both positive and negative) are acceptable.

Play provides an opportunity for children to ‘play out’ feelings and problems. When families experiencing adversity or mental health difficulties begin to play together, perceptions of each other change, communication improves, and individuals experience a decrease in resistance. Through laughter and play, endorphins are released and feelings of wellbeing emerge.

Through play, children are learning how things work, how to use their bodies, how to solve problems and how to get along with others. Play is an avenue though which children can express their emotions, build relationships with others, and master difficult experiences.

Unstructured, child-centred time is vital for nurturing creativity, promoting problem-solving, developing healthy relationships, and mastering cognitive and physical skills. Offering the opportunity for parent-child play is an ideal way to support and strengthen those relationships, and may be particularly important when the relationship is strained or in distress.

Assistant Director Clinical Services, Research and Education Ms Beverley Allen said it is such a privilege to be with a parent and their baby or toddler during play. “Watching them sharing moments of joy and happiness in their play or music activity is like seeing a fine tuned dance” she said “It is so lovely to know that these moments of shared play helps babies and toddlers brain growth. The role of the play practitioners has enhanced the support and facilitation of play opportunities for families whilst at Tweddle. The playroom and outside play areas are full of fun”.


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