I was going through my childhood photos, and so many memories got me sentimental, of course partly because of my nature, but mostly because being a little girl I had so much energy, dreams, and hopes. I knew how to express myself through various means. Do you remember,’Kalongolongo’ or as others would call it, ’Cha mama na cha baba?’ Yes, now those were the good old games that made all of us look forward to meeting up with our friends. Me mainly because I had to play mum.
Play is so vital to a child’s life and growth and it’s essential to use it as a monitoring tool for knowing your child’s behavior as well as their moods, emotions, and feelings.
In the case of a traumatic experience such as defilement, Children may not always be entirely receptive to disclose the experience. They may tell you what happened and in the case, they know the perpetrator, they will reveal. However, some children are too traumatized to speak about it. They become withdrawn from reality, and mostly you get these kids have changed their behavior and are afraid to be with certain people, or certain places and time. Regardless, they try to find ways to cope with the situation and most times it’s through the only means they know how to, play.
A number of them use dolls to vent out their frustrations, and some draw precisely what’s in their mind concerning the experience they had. In addition to that, did you know that children interpret colors different than adults? Here is a shocker, me too! I had no clue that my interpretation of colors as an adult is so different from the little girl who loved playing house with her friends. I will share with you a few colors and what they mean to children, and as a parent, teacher or caregiver, it’s crucial for you especially when you engage children in art drawing.
- Blue-It means that mood or feeling and emotions are somehow cool. However, when used excessively, it brings out sadness.
- Red– Symbolizes excessive feelings of threat
- Yellow– Now this color, is interpreted as a happy color. It shows feelings of happiness
- Green-Means having plenty.
- Black-they mostly associate it with something unpleasant.
Children are very expressive in drawing. For instance, a child who has a very violent father is likely to draw an image of the dad being very huge while the rest of the family is very tiny and usually at the corner bottom of the drawing book. Kids who are physically abused, while playing with dolls vent on the toys and when you keenly observe, most replay what happened to them.
Gender-Based Violence Recovery Center, Nairobi Women’s Hospital are among the few who have adopted this art.Not only has this enabled them to know what incident occurred to the children, but in so many ways the kids have been able to tell someone their story even without having to speak.
People who abuse children and threaten them not to report, put such a heavy burden on children because they have to deal with it else the threat given comes to be. Most times, parents won’t even know what is going in a child’s life until it’s too late. But, with child play and knowing that children use play as a way to deal with stress then it is vital that parents take an interest in how their kids play especially when they feel something is not right with the child.
Someone will ask, am I allowed to play with the child if I notice something is wrong? Thus, I will share a few do’s and don’ts on what to the observer if you want to get answers on what could be troubling your child.
- Let your kids drawing book be an A4 This will give them enough space to illustrate what is in their mind
- Provide color pencils or crayons.
- Be Patient. This art requires a lot of patience. If you sorely depend on this to get information, you need to be patient.
- Choose the colors to be used in artwork. Like I told you earlier, children have different ways of interpreting colors. Let them express themselves by deciding on the colors that make them comfortable.
- Don’t join in especially when they are using dolls. As a parent or guardian, I understand the temptation of wanting to participate in child’s play which is good. But in the case where a child has been abused, it’s theirs, ‘alone’ time as it helps in dealing. Moreover, it is also an opportunity to try and understand what could have happened.
Children who have been abused have very many ways to vent out frustrations and play is very dear to them besides you can get more information on what the experience was especially with children who find it difficult to express themselves.