‘Dibs in search of self’ by Virginia Axline presents series of chronicle play therapy sessions. It is an account that covers a year of therapy sessions for an emotionally crippled boy from a wealthy background. Although, ‘Dibs’, the boy shows the obvious signs of a gifted human being, their parents still insist that Dibs is mental retarded. This is because Dibs also present an abnormality in social behavior since he isolates himself from social contacts (Axline, 1964). Dibs further rarely speaks and physically lashes out at everyone including his parents, caretakers, sister and even classmates during school time. Throughout the play story, Virginia develops the concept of individual differences emerging immediately from the birth of a child and during their childhood. Virginia focus on the differences of the concepts of social interaction, love and relationship, the perception about ‘self’ and understanding the differences among different children in their growth and development.
Every individual is born in a different way. Some are more different compared to others hence understanding such people requires a unique skill. This entails a combination of faith, patience, insight and the ability to view at the world through the child’s perception. It also entails the ability to look at ourselves, as parents and the environment in a view as seen by the child. This enables them to digest and understand the environment well and by themselves (Cottle, 2003). Unconditional love and empathy is necessary to get into tough and understand what it truly means in what the reaction of others about us. Applying everything people are capable of, in the act of trying to understand and address the problems during the growth and development of children requires being open minded enough to consider all variables and approaches on the same.
In the play, the concept of love and patience is evident. Dibs is literally unsocial and does not interact or play with any other person. His temper is something of concern since dibs acts violently to others. Dibs never have the self identity to realize his personality due to the fact that he is unfamiliar with the word ‘I’. Dibs’ parents are so much aggrieved and mourn in humiliation for having the burden of such a child. Instead of looking at the problem in a critical way, Dibs’ parents goes further to assume that he is mental retarded and his situation is much beyond any assistance. This is a poor perception and a low show of patience and love. As mentioned earlier, the differences with the growth of children needs a special understanding. This is only achievable through taking the first step of showing concern and love to the child (Mussen, et al., 2001). It is not the case that every child will develop in a normal way even though they are normal like any other children. Intervening and trying identify and fix the problem is itself a great show of love. When somebody real cares about the welfare of their loved ones, they get to show a great concern about their endeavors. According to Rousseau, in his book entitled ‘smile, critical analysis of your child’s play is a tool learn about and understanding them better. This is not attainable unless one shows love to their children. It is only natural that children exhibit different behavioral characteristics. Other children are naturally slow learners or show some sorts of brain impairment even through that could never be the case (VanFleet et al., 2010). Intervening in such situations needs a lot of love and patient. Otherwise, the initial hectic but solvable problem that remains unsolved will become immune and trouble our children in their entire lives.
The concept of social interaction in social development is also evident in the play story. Children social development is essential to understanding the world in utmost inner view. Initially, Dibs could not engage in any action with anybody leave alone communicating to his parents. After being taken to a child therapist paradigm, where Dr. Axline devotes all his energy and resources to the intervention of Dibs concern, Dibs innermost self began to open. The play therapy greatly assisted Dibs to unlock his resentment, anger, fear loneliness and sadness. It did not only helped him became a sensitive child to the environment but also greatly assisted him slowly shading the layers of emotional withdrawal. Dibs emerged as a superior intelligent conscious person. This reflects to us the importance of social interaction for the growth and development of children. ‘Play’ is itself a tool and a methodology in which enables a child to design, test and discover the world by themselves. According to Friedrich Frobel, in his book entitled “The Education of Man”, symbolism is important aspects in a play to enable a child discover their sense of self and towards their world. Dibs was rebellious in the first sessions of the play therapy visits. As time went on, Dibs became more relaxed and his imaginary world was unfolded where he could begin acting on his experiences accordingly as per expectations. This enabled dibs feeling about others hence the development of the sense of self. Therefore, kids needs to spend in a free play environment that helps them notice the relationship between their rich imaginative world and understanding their strong sense of self within that world (Knell, 1993). Simple tools like sand, blocks, boxes, trees, dolls, car and so forth are effectively utilized by children to reflect the world they inhabit. This is critical to the growth and individual development towards being a responsible and well round society in their future lives.
Virginia’s play story concurs with the case of “Little Hans”, a work published by Freud Sigmund. Little Hans was a victim of a simple phobia. During the early development stages, Sigmund unadvised Hans’ family to take notes and provide play material and close insight to him. Sigmund stressed on the importance of faith and acceptance to both the situation and the child. This greatly helps in addressing the child’s difficulty in emotional factors. Applying this in an actual situation, a child should never be subjected to a rejection or unfairly understood by parents or even the third part environment. Instead, aching for love, faith, and acceptance is essential blanket for comfort and security to any child. It allows them grow appropriately in an environment that enhance their intrusive inner self towards the well being of their persona in their entire life span.
As discussed above, it essential that a child development is accompanied with various aspects. These elements and aspects must especially come during their early developmental stages for children to understand the world better. Such elements and concepts include: parents love and care, patience, especially for unique or impaired kids, faith and general acceptance of these children. Other very important element is the issue of interaction and social development of a child (Davies, 2004). Children should be given a perfect environment that allows them read the outside world and develop the sense of self by themselves through direct internalizing their environment. This such as playing and direct contact with their age groups in vital to enhancing their perception abilities towards other people. The above discussed situations and conditions are well recommended towards the development of all rounded human beings.
Axline, V. M. (1964). Dibs: in search of self: Personality development in play therapy. NY: Ballantane.
Cottle, T. J. (2003). A sense of self: The work of affirmation. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
Davies, D. (2004). Child development: A practitioner's guide. New York: Guilford Press.
Knell, S. M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral play therapy. Northvale, N.J: J. Aronson.
Mussen, P. H., Conger, J. J., & Kagan, J. (2001). Child development and personality. New York: Harper & Row.
VanFleet, R., Sywulak, A. E., & Sniscak, C. C. (2010). Child-centered play therapy. New York: Guilford Press.