How to ease kids’ fear with art

Marcia Sissing doesn’t want to pass her ghostly fears down to her girls, so she doesn’t tell them about the “Boogie Man” or things that go bump in the night. Whether it’s through playing with glow sticks, making shadow puppets, pretending they’re space or even glow-in-the-dark painting, she tries to help them find magic in the darkness.

I grew up in an era where I was afraid of so many things that went bump in the night. To this day I close all the cupboard doors in the house before I go to sleep, in case something is lurking inside and I take care to make sure my legs are not dangling off the edge of the bed for too long in case something snatches me from under the bed. I know it sounds completely illogical but if you watched the movies I did growing up, you might also suffer from the same paranoia.

Movies like Chucky make me inspect that every doll I buy closely and if you’ve watched “IT”, you’ll understand why I don’t like clowns – even Disney isn’t totally safe. Watching scenes of Ursula and Maleficent at the age of five years can leave you with nightmares, which is exactly what happened to me.

Books are a big part of what I use to teach my girls about so many things and so, naturally, when I was trying to encourage them not be afraid but rather but courageous and brave, I looked for a book. Then I found this gem of a book Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Paint set up for painting monster art
Where the wild things are!

The thing I love the most about this book is that when the main character Max (who is a little boy) meets these “wild things” or monsters, he isn’t scared and doesn’t run away. Instead, he looks them straight in the eyes and tells them to stop! The “wild things” are afraid of him and make him the king of all the wild things. I love it that when confronted with the scariest-looking wild things, this little kid chooses to be courageous and show the monsters exactly who’s boss!

Preschool child drawing scary monster art
Drawing a “wild thing”

This book led to so many conversations in our house and is a bedtime favourite, and in the end, it inspired us to create some “wild things” of our own. They came out fabulously and it was fun giving them names, coming up with sounds they might make and even telling them to “STOP”!

This art activity did make me realise that I need to up my fitness level a bit, as all that blowing left me gasping for air and I dare I admit that I even felt a little dizzy (insert the hangs head in shame emoji here!). It’s gym on Monday for me, or if I am admitting to fears, I may as well come clean and share that gym ranks even higher than monsters on my scale so I may only face that fear the following Monday!

Happy child painting scary monster
Dropping food colouring onto the paper using a pipette

What you will need for wild things:

  • Thick paper or card
  • Food colouring mixed with water
  • Pipette/dropper
  • Straw
  • Marker

How to make wild things:

  • Draw a wild thing on the card using the marker.
  • Once you’re happy with your wild thing, use the dropper/pipette to drop a small amount of food colouring onto the paper.
  • Use the straw to blow the food colouring in different directions. You can create crazy hair or fur, or just have it everywhere. Let your imagination go wild.
  • Use as little or as many colours as you like.

Preschooler blowing paint through a strawMy girls are still afraid of some things and I don’t blame them. I am still afraid of some things too, but these are just small, conscious steps I’m trying out as a family to remove the fears as best we can. While this article may not be the answer to solving all fears, it shows how we had fun trying to face some of ours. I seem to find the solution to most of my problems in art, so my advice this week is “When in doubt paint!” (Makke).

Written by Marcia Sissing. For more perfectly imperfect ideas from Mini Matisse Diaries, visit: https://minimatissediaries.co.za/