Craft-y therapy!

focused african american child dipping brush in watercolor before painting
By Psychologist Judy McKay

With the summer holidays swiftly approaching some of you might be starting to scratch your heads, thinking about new and creative ways to entertain the kids over the break. 

See below for 3 art and craft activities you could try that also have a therapeutic element to them.  (Hint: they’re cheap and often use things you already have lying around the house!)

Calm Jar

Used for: Emotional regulation. 

Calm jars provide visual sensory stimulation, in turn providing a calming and distracting effect. They can be added to a sensory toolbox for your child to help them regulate when feeling emotionally heightened. Search “Calm Jar Instructions” to find a step-by-step guide and list of required materials.

DIY Board Game

Used for: Emotional regulation, social skills, conflict resolution, gameplay etc. 

You can tailor the theme of the board game however you please. Search “blank board game template” or create your own.  Some themes include: feelings (think subtle emotions as well as more common ones), scenarios to develop social skills; colour-coding according to the zones of regulation, or coping skills.

Worry Box

Used for: Anxiety

Delaying worries that aren’t urgent can help children to take some control over their thoughts so that they aren’t all encompassing. Using an old shoe or tissue box, decorate and turn it into a personalised worry box. Spend time with your child writing down their worries on some strips of paper and put them in the box overnight for safe keeping. The next day, go through the worries with your child and remove the ones that are no longer on the child’s mind. They can also add any new ones that might have come up. 

We’re writing this from Melbourne so no doubt there will be some rainy days over the break where these activities might come in handy! In the meantime, gather your empty drink bottles, glitter, and cardboard scraps in preparation!

Judy is a registered psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Judy has experience working with young people, their families and extended support networks across educational, clinical and community-based settings. Judy enjoys working creatively and flexibly with children and adolescents to explore their difficult emotions and experiences. In the past, Judy has supported young people experiencing a range of neuro-developmental disorders, anxiety, trauma, social skill and emotional regulation difficulties. Judy values the individual needs of each client and attempts to incorporate their personal interests, strengths and goals throughout therapy. Judy utilises a client-centred approach to her therapy which is grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy and other evidenced-based techniques.

Judy has a background in providing pastoral care to children and adolescents within educational settings. These experiences have enabled Judy to connect and build relationships with students of all ages, in addition to understanding the challenges typically faced by school-aged children. Judy encourages her clients to take a holistic approach to therapy and values communication with a client’s wider support network. This helps to promote positive client outcomes across all aspects of day to day life. Outside of work, Judy loves spending time at the beach or in the countryside. She further enjoys playing social sports and prioritises spending time with friends and family.

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