I have recently started play therapy with a four year old who is very quiet, doesnt make much eye contact and is involved in a lot of solitary play during the session. This week he was trying without success to open a pot of play dough and was finding this very difficult. I was acknowledging his struggle and stating how hard it looked and remindinhim that i could help him with this if he wanted me to. He didnt look at me and began shaking his head. This child’s mum is a single parent who has had long periods of depression throughout his life which may have contributed to him being overly self sufficient. I know a healthy amount of independence is developmentally appropriate for a child of his age, and have worked with many children who find it hatd to ask for help, but i was struck by his inability to accept help even when it was gently offered to him. Eventually i posed the question, ” i wonder what it would be like if you let me help you with that,everyone needs help sometimes?” At which point he handed me the pot which i opened.
If you have a child in your setting who finds it hard to ask for or accept help, they may have learnt to be overly self sufficient, and a gentle question as above may help them with this.