Treating My Child's Mental Illness with a Box of Crayolas

April 28, 2021 Sarah Sharp

One afternoon, I talked to a friend after work about the disconnection I've been feeling lately with my child. My kid argues with almost everything I say (at least, it feels like everything), he never stops talking or moving, and he's been having problems at school. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing control of the situation because I'm not always sure what to do about my child's mental illness, much less how to treat it. What my friend asked me next was, "Have you tried coloring with him?"

I didn't know what to say. I don't think I said anything at first because I was trying to remember the last time I'd sat down and colored with my kid. My friend went on to say that I could sit and color with him and talk to him the way I would any other person. Maybe then I could get to know him a little more deeply and start to treat my child's mental illness the way it needs to be treated.

Treating Your Child's Mental Illness Can Be Fun

It happened organically. My kid got a large, color-it-yourself map, complete with paper cars, trees, trolleys, and houses. When he asked if we could put it together, I remembered what my friend said about coloring with my child. 

I'll be honest since that's what I do on Life with Bob: this activity consisted mostly of me redirecting my little boy's attention back to the task at hand and explaining why I shouldn't do all the work. However, it was still fun to create something with him and watch him be his funny, little self.

Treating my child's mental illness shouldn't always feel like work. Sometimes it should feel more like play.

Treating My Child's Mental Illness Is About Getting to Know Him

Okay, so maybe I'm not necessarily "treating" my child's mental illness when I drag out his crafts basket, but I do get to know him just a little bit better. I get a better idea of what keeps his attention, what makes him lose his attention, where his strengths and limitations lie, which tasks frustrate him, which ones he needs help with, where he could use a boost of confidence, and so on. Coloring a giant map with my child won't cure his mental illness, but getting to know him more and on a deeper level will better equip me to help him manage it.

Are there activities you do with your child that seem to help treat her mental illness? Let's talk in the comments.

And if you seem to have a particularly hard time getting your child to listen when you try to teach her new skills, check out my video about how I cope with the same problem.

APA Reference
Sharp, S. (2021, April 28). Treating My Child's Mental Illness with a Box of Crayolas, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Sarah Sharp

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