Creative Coping and Following Their Lead

A terrible day for our three year old over the weekend.  She had talked her father into a ruby red, star-covered, helium balloon from the Memorial Day festivities. We watched many balloons soar into the sky, leaving behind sobbing little ones.

She had her ear-full of “don’t let go of it” and “watch out for …” while carrying it back to the car. Later in the day, her father took her for a bike ride.  She wanted to bring the balloon so we tied it to the trailer.  Sadly, the balloon untied on it’s own and drifted away shortly after they got to the playground.  They came home and Ella was eager to tell me what had happened and how sad she was. She asked if we could make a picture to show what had happened (first time she’s ever asked).

I drew some cartoon boxes and had her tell me frame by frame how the terrible event unfolded.  

She described riding in the trailer, getting to the playground, meeting two girls and then watching the balloon float away.  What is interesting about this is the time she then spent swirling glitter paint colors over the emotionally charged image of herself.  This was the only box she gave special attention to and made her own marks on.  I speculate that she was able to sit with the difficult feelings more easily through the character and the fluid property of the glitter paint allowed her to become lost in the process. She softened while working here, several times asking me to get the glitter out of her character’s eyes.  She decided the glitter made the little girl feel better.

This three year old knew exactly what she needed to move through the painful experience.  Our job was to listen to what she was asking for and to sit with her through the uncomfortable feelings.

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4 Comments on “Creative Coping and Following Their Lead”

  1. Laurie LeBreton says:

    Glitter always works for me too.

  2. bam says:

    beautiful beautiful, “following their lead……”
    love laurie’s comment above. i think i am going to the store to buy me some glitter. i just said to my almost 19-year-old, “parenting is the most fascinating thing…..
    and said he: “it all turned out all right, mommo.”
    to parents who know how to follow the lead. xoxox

  3. Jane says:

    To all you Moms above and everywhere, right on, right on.
    Nice work, B. Amazes me ….
    Love, M

  4. Annamarie Behring says:

    Wonderful story. You are such a great Mom. Maybe I should try something like this…for me! 🙂


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