Floortime continued

In the last blog we started looking at some of the core concepts of Floortime and I talked about following the child’s lead. This time I’d like to talk a little bit about one of the other core concepts of Floortime – the importance of affect.

What do we mean by “affect” and why is it so important? 

In the context of relationships “affect” refers to the expression of feeling or emotion. It’s through shared feelings and emotions that we truly connect with others. When we experience others’ emotional responses to us as being positive, warm and nurturing we get a sense of being understood and cared about. This is what we want children to experience, that they are safe, understood and heard.

Showing affect is so much more than just words! 

Of course, the language we use in communication is important, but showing affect is so much more than just words. It’s about facial expression, body language and tone of voice too. By understanding a child’s individual profile we can work out what kind of affect we need to use to connect and interact with them. Do we need to be animated in our voice and use big facial expressions and gestures? Would this be too overwhelming so we need to speak softly and use smaller and slower body movements with them? One of our main goals in Floortime sessions is to help you understand your child’s individual profile and to read their cues so that you can connect, communicate and have the shared joy of interacting together. 

Some of the other ways that affect is important:

Regulation: As adults, our affect is key in supporting children to learn to regulate. By varying our tone of voice, facial expressions and body language we can help a child to become calmer or to become more alert. When a child is showing emotions our affect can communicate that we understand what they are experiencing and help to support them through those big feelings. The next post will focus specifically on regulation so be sure to check it out.

Desire to work things out/problem solve: Affect is key in creating a desire to explore, to find out how things work and to problem solve when faced with a challenge. The feelings of curiosity, motivation and the desire to work through frustrations or challenges are essential for development.

Children mirror what they see others doing, so, in letting our children see how we express curiosity, how we go about working through a frustration and the feelings that go with it, we support them to express and negotiate them too. Helping children learn to problem solve and especially resolving an issue with other people is a main area of focus at Play for Real. As adults it’s all too easy to fix things for our children so we work with you, the parent, to help you to help your child become a successful problem solver.

What does a Floortime session look like?

Every Floortime session looks different, but wherever it’s taking place, be it in a therapy clinic, at home, outside, at school or any other setting, the components I talked about in this and the previous blog are key. At Play for Real a Floortime session would typically be with the child, their parent(s) and the therapist.

It starts with watching to see what the child chooses to do and then joining them with that. Depending on what the parent prefers, the therapist may coach the parent to help them do the playing with their child or the therapist may do some of the playing to demonstrate the Floortime strategies. We work together to understand your child and to find the “just right” challenge to help them move up through the developmental capacities (See below).

Next Time: 

In the next few blogs I’ll be talking about the Functional Emotional Developmental Capacities (FEDC’s), starting with FEDC 1 Regulation and Shared Attention.

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