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The Symbolic Meaning of Toys

from Reaching Children Through Play Therapy: An Experiential Approach, by Carol Crowell Norton and Byron E. Norton.

AIRPLANE- escape, distance, speed, search, freedom, safety, protection, etc.

ANIMALS (WILD)- aggression, fear, survival, power, strength, etc.

ANIMALS (DOMESTIC)- protection, family, relations, vulnerability, compliance, dependency, etc.

BABY BOTTLE- regression, nurturing, orality, coping issues, dependency, babies, siblings, urinating, etc.

BALL- interaction, relationships, trust, re-evaluation, competition, reassurance, etc.

BINOCULARS- perspective, relationship (close/distance), surveilance, hunting, finding, searching, intimacy, self-examination, etc.

BLANKET- regression, security, protection, boundaries, etc.

BLOCKS- defenses, boundaries, construction, limits, rigidity, closure, structure, protection, barriers, vulnerability, etc.

BOATS- support, unconscious, stable/unstable, emotionality, balance, security, etc.

BOOKS- bibliotherapy, secrets, past, future, present, identity, knowledge, metaphors, etc. 

BOX- secret, known/unknown, non-content existence, hidden, control, containment, boundaries, belief, confirmation, gift, self, dignity, etc. 

BROKEN TOYS- issue, self, identity, defeat, change, compensation, ineffectual, loss, adjustment, etc. 

CAMERA- proof, validation, conformation, past, truth, evidence, change, memory, knowledge, etc.

CARS- mobility, power, escape, conflict, safety, protection, travel, defenses, family issues, etc.

CHALK/DRY BOARD- environment, world, creation, emotional expression, integration, creativity, etc.

CLAY- aggression, manipulation, creation, self-esteem, change, expression, contact, pressure, etc.

COSTUMES- relationships, communication, anonymity, fantasy, impulses, diguise, etc.

                        GLOVES- avoiding, distant, safety, control over content, etc.

                        HATS- identity, roles, expectations, fantasy, power, denial, etc.

                        MASK- relationships, communication, anonymity, fantasy, impulses, disguise, etc.

                        SUNGLASSES- hiding, avoiding, distant, safety, etc.

                        WIGS- relationships, communication, anonymity, fantasy, impulses, disguise, person, etc.

DINOSAURS- past, history, death, power, extinction, fear, conflict, survival, loss, environmental, etc.

DOCTOR'S KIT- healing, repair, respect, power, life/death, pain, body image, crisis, changing, intrusion, internal, etc.

                         SYRINGE- intrusion, violation, pain, healing, fear, impact, constant, penetration, etc.

                         STETHOSCOPE- internal feelings, unknown, undisclosed, validation, etc.

                         THERMOMETER- internal feelings, sick/ok-ness, need for help, crisis, need for change, etc.

                         BLOOD PRESSURE- internal issues, anger, calm, state of mind, internalized feelings, need for change, etc.

                         OPERATION- crisis, intervention, intrusion, action, risk, resolution, control, vulnerability, healing, etc.

DISHES/COOKING- nurturing, celebration, security, orality, attention, neglect, demands, etc.

DOLLS- self identity, regression, sibling, anatomy, competition, closeness, friendship, etc.

DOLL HOUSE- family, family interaction/attitude, environment, security. etc.

FAMILY FIGURES- authority, power, nurturing, perpetrator, protection, dependency, competition, relationship, security, acceptance, rejection, etc.

                          MALE- above issues with father, male figures, modeling, brothers, uncles, teachers, sitters, etc.

                          FEMALE-above issues with mother, female figures, modeling, sisters, aunts, teachers, sitters, etc. 

                          GIRL- self, sister, sitter, identity, image, friend, peer rlationship, social, etc.

                          BOY- self, brother, sitter, identity, image, friend, peer relationship, social, etc.

                          BABY- nurturing, sibling, competition, regression, needs, history, past. etc.

FINGER PAINTS- contact, involvement, impact, grounding, regression, security, etc.

FLASHLIGHT- control, secrecy, fear, searching, leadership, dependency, observing, scanning, etc.

GAMES- control of life, competition, success/failure, complience, empowerment, structure, resistence, change, competency, cooperation, etc.

GROOMING- self-image, self-concept, change, thoughts, validation,caring, nurturing, etc.

GUNS- aggression, control, anger, hostility, power, death, pain, intrusion, impact, protection, boundaries, etc.

KEYS- secret, control, unknown, containment, protected, boundaries, etc.

KITCHEN SET- home, nurturing, care, neglect, sibling conflict, relationship, family, respect, family process, emotional sipport, etc.

KNIFE- utensil, aggression, power, defense, protection, intrusion, sexual, pain, etc.

LIGHTS-  control, power, secret, escape, hiding, denial, change, misery, etc.

MAGIC WAND/CRYSTAL BALL- fantasy, wishes, gaols, desire, future, etc.

MIRROR- self-image, self-concept, memories, past, change, thoughts, validation, etc.

MODELS- consistency, completion, motivation, focus, persistence, goal, validation, etc.

MONEY/POKER CHIPS- security, power, control, loss, cheated, etc.

MONSTER FIGURE- fear, mysterious, frightening, unknown, friendly, secretive, power, ambivalence, fantasy,

aggression, conflict, perpetration, relationship, revenge, attack, etc.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS-  self-expression, internal, communication, creativity, contact, etc.

PAINTS- distance, expression, inaccessable needs, environment, attitude, view of the world, etc.

PILLOW- bed, safety, territory, throne, parent, monster, aggression, relaxation, burden, etc.

PLAYING CARDS- money, control, power, secrets, spontaneity, etc.

PUPPETS- relationships, communication, anonymity, fantasy, impulses, disguise, etc.

PUZZLES- problem solving, decisions, completion, accomplishment, integration, solving, getting-the-picture, getting-it-together, etc.

SAND- construction, destruction, environment, community, fellings, change, emotional world, creativity, etc.

SAND BOTTOM BOP BAG- aggression, conflict, perpetrator, power, relationship, revenge, etc.

SHARK- aggression, fear, perpetrator, powerful, etc.

SOLDIERS- conflict, attack, aggression, force, life/death, struggling, people, grouping, etc.

SPACE (BOX, TENT, HOUSE)- hidden, be and not be, shame/respect, distance/contact, acceptance, trust, boundaries, etc.

SWORD- aggression, distance, conflict, defense, protection, intrution, power, etc.

TAPE RECORDER- self, relationship, evidence, existence, validation, reassurance, consistancy, control, observation, confirmation, etc.

TARGETS- self-confidence, goal setting, appropriateness, need for success, expectations, fear of failure, competition, adjusting, adaptability, etc.

TEDDY BEAR- warmth, nurturing, security, companionship, self, protection, etc.

TELEPHONE- communication, distance, safety, control, power, disconnect, etc.

TINKERTOYS/LEGOS- structure, construction, completion, closure, goal attainment, etc.

TOOLS- resources, change, impact, construction, security, authority, confidence, problem-solving, decisions, etc.

WATER- emotionality, flexibility, freedom, enuresis, anxiety, orality, sadness, depth, internal, regression, primitive, unconscious, etc.

Toys in green are basic toys to have in the a playroom.

Permission to provide this information has been given by it's authors Dr. Byron Norton Ed.D and Dr. Carol Norton Ed.D.  Visit their website at http://www.playtherapy.ws/ for more information on upcoming workshops and presentations.  Visit http://www.selfesteemshop.com/products.php?and=1&keywords=norton to purchase Reaching Children Through Play Therapy: An Experiential Approach, by Carol Crowell Norton and Byron E. Norton.

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