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Nurturing Younger Parts: The Power of Play in Dissociative System

Incorporating play when working with younger parts in dissociative systems is a significant way to nurture and heal. Play allows inner children to express themselves, release emotions, and experience joy. Childhood trauma disrupts development, but play can help younger parts explore, express, and integrate their fragmented experiences. When working with parts of a dissociative system where play was not allowed and fear of punishment for engaging in fun activities exists, it's important to approach the process with sensitivity and patience. As a survivor of ritual abuse and mind control, I have had to work through many roadblocks when it comes to engaging in play and I still struggle. Pushing past programming that certain parts had was very difficult as these trauma holders were not allowed to make any choices for themselves, not allowed to enjoy anything, and would be punished for any creativity or the use of their own imagination. With some parts I had to paint in my therapist's office to prove to them that no one was going to hurt them. This was after having parts that could do some painting on canvas on my own. The parts who held extreme trauma shared their fears with me and my therapist and they felt validated and understood. I was able to then do lower risk activities at home like coloring in a color book for short durations. Then we could work up to doing longer times slots. This built confidence and trust.

I'm still working with some parts currently who have not been able to paint again. My homework this week from my therapist is to paint a painting. I know we can do it. When we include play and creativity in our life the littles always enjoy it and we benefit greatly when we work together and push through conditioning yet again. If you struggle with being able to play or do things that littles want to do, you're not alone. If you don't have a hard time with it but just need some ideas to incorporate fun for your littles keep reading.

First of all, create a safe and supportive environment with privacy, comfort, and soothing elements. I encourge you to try expressive arts like drawing, sculpting, painting, and collage-making. Use sand trays, puppets, and dolls for storytelling and emotional exploration.

Empower younger parts by allowing them to lead and make choices in play. Validate their expressions and autonomy, fostering empowerment and rebuilding trust. Encourage imaginative play with props, books, dolls, and costumes. Incorporate movement activities like dancing, hiking, or playing with a ball for grounding and body-mind connection.

Promote social play for interpersonal skills and connection. Board games, role-playing, and card games foster communication and a sense of belonging.

Play is a pathway to self-discovery, resilience, and joy. It allows younger parts to rewrite their narratives, release fears, and reclaim inner strength for greater wholeness.

Here are specific play ideas for different age groups:


  • Soft toys for comfort

  • Soothing music and gentle rocking

  • Sensory toy bin with textured fabrics


  • Safe play area for physical movement

  • Crayons and coloring books

  • Dollhouses, toy kitchens, and playsets

  • Blocks and shape sorters

Young Child Parts:

  • Sensory play with kinetic sand, playdough, or water

  • Dress-up, puppets, and action figures

  • Building forts with blankets and pillows

  • Storytime with puppets and dolls


  • Board games and card games

  • Outdoor activities like hiking and biking

  • Art activities like collages and drawing

  • Journaling or diary writing

Teenage Parts:

  • Singing, playing music, or learning instruments

  • Journal prompts for writing and poetry

  • Engaging in expressive arts

Remember to adapt activities to meet the unique needs of each part, and make safe space for everyone to work together to come up with what play looks like for your system. Be ready to work with anyone who may get triggered. Having flexibility and communication within the dissociative system are essential for understanding and accommodating individual preferences. Let play be a transformative tool for nurturing and healing for you!

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May 27, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for this post. I struggle to let my younger parts play, and especially with creative expression. Thank you for the encouragement!

Sharri Burggraaf
Sharri Burggraaf
Jun 03, 2023
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I'm glad my blog was encouraging to you since you too struggle with letting your younger parts play. I hope that you have success in your desire to express using your creativity. Keep trying. It's worth it. When younger parts are happier it effects the whole system.

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