How to help your children draw their way through an ‘experience’

How do you get your children to express themselves in a difficult situation, when language doesn’t necessarily flow that easily?  Drawing is the perfect answer!  Every child can pick up a pencil and when an adult is sensitive to what they are drawing, or telling you about at the end, it can be a very therapeutic tool.

Here is how our ‘experience’ of a missing pet unfolded. 

Day 1 – Through a chain of events, Master 2 opened the cage door, outside, of our beloved cockatiel of eight years.  Before we knew it, he was gone.  Thinking we had slim chances of finding Trevor, we did a small search around our block and went to put up some LOST signs.

I went to bed feeling dreadful for our poor pet, out with the wild birds and a 3degree night.

 

 

 

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Day 2 – I felt like I had to do one last call out, so I got up early and whistled my way around the block.  Just as I was about to head home, I heard him!  I went to find him in a tree and called my husband to come and help.  The boys waited in the car while my husband got up a ladder and we put a rake out for Trevor to climb onto (he had no idea how to fly downwards to us).  Well our poor bird got a fright from the rake and flew off – over the road and into a bush somewhere.

I spent the next half day whistling my way around a much wider radius of our house and ended up back at home feeling frustrated and tired and worried, again, for our bird.  The boys were now trying to make sense of it all and wondering why Mummy was so sad.  They were sure Trevor would be back. 

That afternoon, with my husband gone for the next few days, the boys and I walked to two parks, putting up more signs and whistling more.  In a last ditch effort, I drove us back to the bush where we saw him head and whistled out the car window.  I just had to find him.  He called out!!!  So again, the boys waited in the car while I searched for Trevor, whistling from somewhere in a big clump of gum trees, over a swamp…..  

The next while included:

  • Trevor flying at me and missing me and ending up high in a gumtree
  • Myna birds attacking him
  • Me attempting to throw 2metre branches at them
  • Me wondering how Trevor would manage to just drop from the tree, back to me
  • Trevor flying off to another tree with birds chasing him
  • Me chasing Trevor, the boys watching on in the car

Well, Trevor did think about flying down to me again but just couldn’t do it.  So I jumped in the car with the boys and raced back to our house to get his cage, in a hope he might come down to his seed and water.  All the while, I was explaining to the boys about the excitement, yes, of finding him but the nervous times ahead of trying to catch him and about the fact it was nearly dark.

We left Trevor in the branch that night with his cage under the tree.  The boys and I discussed the myna birds and why they were attacking Trevor.  We made a plan to go on an early morning adventure the next day to catch him.  I was at this point forcing myself to use positive thinking AND talking in front of the boys about it.  I also had to be organised and clear with ideas of how to catch him AND entertain the boys for who knows how long the next morning.  

Day 3 – With my stomach feeling a bit sick and my heart in my mouth, we got back to the tree and Trevor was quiet but still there.  Unfortunately, he was no closer to coming down and was not wanting to give himself away to the myna birds, who happened to have a nest a few branches over.  I spoke with a groundsman (of the retirement village we were in) who agreed I should come back at a slightly more decent hour and use the neighbour’s hose to get Trevor down. 

We drove home and waited the nervous wait.  It was here, we had the time to start drawing.  Of course there were many parts of the story we could have drawn about, but it was nice to see what the boys chose and what they talked about.  It allowed for us all to have a ‘free range’ discussion about any thoughts that were on the top of their head.  And let me see what they were making of it all.  

Master 4's myna bird - the 'naughty bird' (with an unwelcome scribble on top from Master 2)

Master 4’s myna bird – the ‘naughty bird’
(with an unwelcome scribble on top from Master 2)

I started drawing my own experience, and soon Master 4 was adding to it. 

Mummy at the bottom waving her big stick.  The boys in the car yelling 'mummy'!...

Mummy at the bottom waving her big stick. The boys in the car yelling ‘mummy’!…

Well we went back again.  The boys geared up for more waiting while Mummy raced out and found the groundsman.  He sprayed the hose, which only attracted attention to Trevor, he tried his leaf blower, which did nothing, then he got out his extendable saw.  He moved the branch and Trevor flew off again.  My heart was back in my mouth racing after him and seeing the main road.  It was two crows that gave Trevor away and there he was, at my height.  I grabbed him, full of relief and ecstatic.  

We brought Trevor home and cut him some new branches and let him rest.  He was fairly battered. 

Got him!

Got him!

That night, unfortunately, Trevor took a turn for the worse, and died.  Whilst it was very sad, it was good to know that he was at home with us and this made the boys realise how much they loved him. 

Day 4 – I broke the news to the boys.  Master 4 understood that death means that Trevor’s body has died but his spirit lives on, the one that is braver and stronger and full of love, for having gone through all of this.  Master 2 worked out Trevor was ‘sleeping’ 😀

We drew some more. 

Master 4's account of events from the capture to Trevor's death.

Master 4’s account of events from the capture to Trevor’s death.

Master 4 was now just talking as he drew.  It was good to see what he had understood from it all.  He was unsure how to draw hearing about Trevor’s death.  I explained not necessarily drawing a picture, but maybe using the different coloured pencils to show his feelings with his hand movements or by the colours he chose.  I modelled for him. 

Drawing the moment Master 4 heard of Trevor's death

Drawing the moment Master 4 heard of Trevor’s death

Master 2 joined in drawing a rainbow to bring us some happiness, like the rainbow we had seen on day 3.

Master 2 joined in drawing a rainbow to bring us some happiness, like the rainbow we had seen on day 3.

The hope from day 3...

The hope from day 3…

After doing so many drawings in a few days, the boys are back into their habit of drawing their thoughts and ideas out.  Every time they do regular drawing, they always get so much out of it.  Ideas flow out, drawing skills improve daily and creativity in both drawing and story telling is inspiring! 

In my health coach course, we have learnt about the power of expressing oneself on paper and after the last few days, I aim to sit with the boys and draw more too.  

How much do you draw?  Have you ever encouraged your children to draw their way out of a tough situation?  Will you encourage them to sit down and do drawing more regularly?

I hope to get time soon to post about our ‘Daily draw’, where the boys drew every day for a month.  

Well, that’s it for my Trevor story.  I hope I have shown my boys that persistence and a positive attitude can really bring about miracles.  We should probably never have found Trevor…twice! 

Would it matter on the moon?

We go through struggles everyday between the 2 boys over things that ‘don’t really matter’. But actually, who am I to say it doesn’t matter?  For them as a child, in that stage, maybe it does matter…  Or maybe they don’t know how to understand the situation any differently.

So I might:
– label their feelings – eg ‘you are frustrated he won’t give it back to you’ or ‘you had in your mind you were going to sit in that seat..you are disappointed’
– show them how to deal with it – eg ‘do you think you could show him a better way with different pieces, then he might not care about the ones you want?’ or ‘ask him “could we swap chairs?”‘
– OR I might say to Master4 ‘if we went on a holiday to the moon….do you think we’d care about this problem right now?’.  Thinking, he usually agrees ‘no we wouldn’t’.  So now I can say, ‘if we were on the moon…?’ and if he’s happy to leave it, phew!  If not, it probably does matter to him!

Do you go through these struggles over small things with your little ones?  How do you deal with it?

Coconut yoghurt

Who could say no to some coconut yoghurt?

Here are some benefits:

  • Coconut milk is a healthy and filling ‘good fat’.  Good fats are so important for brains, particularly children’s developing ones.
  • Probiotics in a food that you have fermented (unlike store bought products), are likely to have far more live cultures and are more likely to actually colonise your gut, instead of doing their job and then passing through.  My post Why your children’s gut health will determine their health both now and in the future will give you more information on why you should be looking at your family’s gut health.
  • A dairy-free option avoids the issues of dairy milk – inflammation, mucous-forming, unwanted hormones and antibiotics and not to mention the many dairy and lactose-intolerances that children are suffering from these days (many who don’t know it).  Eczema, erratic behaviour, ear infections and issues with tonsils/adenoids/sleep apnoea are just some of the signs that going dairy-free for a little bit might be a good test.
  • The price!  Make it for a fraction of the price of store-bought coconut yoghurt.

There are many, many recipes around for coconut yoghurt.  I have fine tuned this one to make it very simple.  If you have the time and resources, go for your life and make the coconut milk from scratch.  Otherwise, be sure to look for coconut cream (coconut milk or reduced fat coconut milk just has more water added) and one that has few extra ingredients.  Remember, there are so many varying factors; the quality and number of probiotics,  the source of the probiotics, the amount of coconut cream in the can and the weather.

If you treat this as a fun, tasty, cheap and healthy science experiment, you will have no worries!

tangy coconut yoghurt

Let’s get to it.

Your ingredients & equipment

  • 2 cans coconut cream.
  • 3 teaspoons dairy-free probiotic powder (we use Kids Inner Health Plus).  Make sure you get one that has at least 25 billion live cultures.  Another option might be to buy coconut yoghurt and use two ‘small’ tablespoons as your starter.
  • A clean glass jar big enough to hold the coconut cream.
  • Oven with a working light (check yours can be flicked on without the heat).  Another option might be to warm tea towels, wrap them around your glass jar and ferment in an esky.
perfect with passionfruit

perfect with passionfruit

Steps to heaven in a mouthful!

  1. Put both cans of coconut cream in your fridge (or freezer if you’re in a hurry) for an hour or so.  In winter, you may not need to do this.
  2. Scoop out the solid coconut cream into a large glass jar.  Add enough of the remaining coconut water to it to achieve your desired consistency of yoghurt, remembering it will become a bit more solid once refrigerated.  Keep the coconut water to drink, use or thin out yoghurt that might end up too thick later on.
  3. Think about whether your oven will be free for 24 hours.  If not, put your coconut cream aside until it will be.
  4. Add 3 tsp dairy-free probiotic powder or 2 tbs store-purchased coconut yoghurt.  Mix well through the coconut cream.
  5. Place the lid on the jar and put it into your oven with the door closed and with the light on and NO heat.  Trust your oven will keep your yoghurt-to-be at the right temperature even on a really cold night!
  6. Let your yoghurt develop for 24 hours.
  7. Take it out and taste.  Yum!?
  8. Refrigerate.
  9. Go out and buy more coconut milk so you are ready to make more when the first jar is polished off very quickly!
24 hours in the oven

24 hours in the oven

For your next batch…

1. Save 2 tbs yoghurt (you will need to experiment here, depending how many probiotics are in the first batch and how tangy you want the next one) and place into a clean jar.

2. Repeat above process of scooping out coconut cream and adding the coconut water you want for the correct consistency.  This time you will have a better idea of how thick or runny to make it.

3.  Stir and put back in the oven!

Troubleshooting…

  • If you find that your coconut yoghurt doesn’t taste tangy enough, don’t discount the process.  It probably did work, you may just need more probiotics added next time.  Enjoy your coconut ‘yoghurt’ anyway!
  • If your coconut yoghurt is too tangy, open a new can of coconut cream, mix the coconut cream and water together and pour some coconut milk into the yoghurt to reduce the flavour.  But don’t say no to all the wonderful probiotics in your yoghurt!
  • If your coconut yoghurt, once refrigerated, is very hard, add some coconut water to it or open another can and use.
  • Remember, refrigerating your coconut yoghurt stops the fermenting process, leaving it out will allow the fermenting to continue.
  • If you are doing the warm tea towels/esky option, you might need to check it throughout the 24 hours to be sure it isn’t fermenting too quickly and thus ending up too tangy.

I’d love to hear how you go!  Did this inspire you to make your own, delicious coconut yoghurt?  Did it turn out well?

Have you thought about a dairy-free trial to help your children’s health and wellbeing?  Just as important as calcium are magnesium and zinc levels, which all parents should keep a track of for their children, not just on a dairy-free diet.  We use a kinesiologist to monitor all three levels.  The best way we achieve these minerals are through a varied, wholefood diet.

🙂 Heidi