Here, you'll find my writing as well as suggested reading and media.
1. Roses & Thorns: Can become a ritual done after school every day
Begin by introducing activity, then you can ask:
Rose of the day? (best part of the day)
Thorn of the day? (worst part of the day)
Bud of the day (something that they’re looking forward to)
Kids will sometimes over focus on either their rose or thorns. If they’re anything like one little girl I knew, it was all about the thorns. A lot of kids stop over-emphasizing the thorns when they feel confident that the adult in their lives really sees just how rough they feel. So resist the urge to cheer up right away and just focus on validating.
2. The Weather Report: Straight out of Theraplay this game is about visualization and connection with a younger child. Soothing and relaxing for children.
Have your child sit in front of you with their back to you. Sit behind them, legs crossed criss cross applesauce.
Ask them if it’s ok for you to touch their back. If they give a yes, you may continue.
Theraplay is a method of attachment-based directive play therapy techniques designed for accessing a child’s most basic brain systems. While this is a modality that is usually used for highly dysregulated children, I find that most of their games and methods can also be applied to children who developed healthy attachments early in life. This game uses touch and guided visualization to help children calm their nervous systems.
3. Altered Magazine Art
Acrylic Paints or Pastels
Magazines- pre-cut pages of large-scale images (black and white are best)
Offer your kid the chance to deface some magazines! Black and white magazines are the best. Invite them to color over or alter the images they find. Allow your kid the chance to be a little deviant- just be careful not to condemn them for the weird, “inappropriate” or goofy stuff they come up with. You can join them with your own pre-cut magazine images or let them go to town on these magazines while you’re chatting.
The benefit of giving your child a sanctioned place to be naughty: you’re giving them a container for their dark side. Tagging or defacing images is a really common behavior and impulse for young people. By harnessing that impulse in a creative and non-judgmental way, you allow your kid to explore their id, their shadow, their darker side without becoming overwhelmed by shame or guilt.
An entire roll of tin foil
Optional: some unbent metal paper clips to help build a structure
Offer your kid the opportunity to build something out of tin foil. It may be helpful if you make something yourself, first. One way to begin may be to make an imprint of your own hand or foot or even face. Your child may have the compulsion to crumple this up- don’t be deterred! This medium begs to be squashed. Once they get interested in playing with it, let them go to town.
The tactile nature of tin foil can be really fun for kids and teenagers alike. This is a great way to engage with your children creatively and collaboratively.
5. Nature Sensing: our sense of vision is overly relied upon and it can be fun and engaging to try using the other senses to engage with the world.
None- though it helps if you’re outside in a nature-immersive area.
You can have them open their eyes once you’ve gone through several questions and ask them to name one thing they see for each color of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
These questions are all designed to help your kid tap into their sensory experience. This is basic mindfulness and because these questions are interactive and physically-oriented, your kid will not get bored. In fact, they may feel some pride in being able to tell you the answers. If they don’t get the answers right, or have trouble with the exercise, no worries. Just move on to a different game.