It is easy to be childish but takes great maturity to be child-like and there is a difference. Childishness is very self-centred, (which is appropriate if you are a child) but being child-like means taking time to purposely find joy in playful things whilst having empathy for yourself and others.
In my work as a child counsellor I literally get to play like a child and alongside a child with the aim of helping a child to find words to express what they show me. The purpose of finding words to express their inner world is so that they can communicate verbally so that adults can understand what they are feeling and what they need. A feeling that has not been cognitively recognised can often be acted out in ways that are unhelpful and sometimes dangerous. The biggest learning is when a child can be aware of what they feel and why and identifies for themselves what they need and where they can go to get that need fulfilled. With my Mary Poppins bag of toys and creative materials I offer children a space to play, story tell, express emotions in safe ways and a mind 2 play.
Why do I call my service A Mind 2 Play? Before we can think in words we feel, our body and mind are connected. We learn language but sometimes do not have verbal language for the feelings that we hold in our bodies. Even when we do have a language, a traumatic event, like bereavement, an accident, neglect or abuse can mean that we are unable to process what has happened to us and our mind is unable to make sense of all the overwhelming feelings of both physical and emotional pain. Children (often adolescents and adults too) act out in an attempt to show others their feelings but this way of communicating is often misunderstood and leads to the child being punished rather than being offered the love, understanding and care they are so desperately seeking.
Through play, whether that be with toys, creations or narrative, children can show me their struggles without having to make sense of it or have a language for it. As I verbally reflect, (say what I see) a story that can then be processed evolves and becomes something that can be explored and shared. In order for me to be able to really listen with my eyes as well as my ears I have to have a clear mind, therefore I am offering my mind whilst 2 people sit together and there is play; A Mind 2 Play.
If you would be interested to learn more about play in therapy I can recommend:
Play Therapy: The Art of Relationship by Garry L. Landreth (Theory-easy read)
Play Therapy by Virginia M. Axeline (Theory-easy read)
There's a boy in the girl's bathroom by Louis Sachar (story-easy read)