My Many Coloured Days

This beautiful book from Dr Seuss, uses colours and animals as a way to describe emotions. It won’t come as any surprise to you that here at The Moffles we like this very much! The vibrant pictures tell a story of different days being different colours and bringing all sorts of moods and feelings with them. One of the many lovely things about the simple but powerful text is how all the different emotions are treated equally – there are no ‘bad’ emotions, they are just what they are. Another lovely thing is how the story invites children to think about how they feel in their bodies when they have different emotions, or different coloured days. For many children who have experienced trauma, being able to connect with how they are feeling on a body level can be very difficult and even frightening. This is a book that approaches the subject in a gentle and fun way, inviting children to start to become curious about how they feel.

Sometimes in therapy, I will give a child a big drawing of a heart and invite them to choose their colours for the emotions happy, sad, scared and angry. If they want to, they can colour in their heart, to show how much of each emotion they are feeling that day. This can be an engaging way to connect and offer a powerful visual insight into the inner world of the child. Sometimes the drawing opens up a conversation about how the child is feeling and sometimes it is enough to have shared the colours and the images they create. Parents who have told me that their child is shut off from their feelings and cannot express them, are often surprised to see how emotionally articulate their child can be with colours and shapes. When we revisit this activity at different times in the work and compare the different images, the colours and the patterns they use can tell a story of the child’s journey in therapy and in their developing sense of themselves. Often as the sessions progress, children tell me that they want to choose more colours for even more emotions, and we can see their abilities and confidence to express themselves growing.

One little boy I worked with told me that he could not colour in his heart because all of his emotions were locked in his head. So, he drew a picture of his head instead and over time, we created a story that helped to make sense of why this might have happened. Together with his foster carers, we helped the boy to see that he had found lots of ways to keep himself safe when he had lived with people who did not do this for him. One of these ways had been to learn to feel nothing. This had been very resourceful, when to feel emotions would have been so sad and scary and painful for him. This little boy decided that now he would like to see what it would be like to move the emotions out of his head and back into his body, and so we playfully and gently found ways to help him to practice this, a little bit at a time.

My Many Coloured Days is one wonderful resource to use in work like this, inviting children into a colourful world where emotions and feelings can be explored, validated and tried on for size.

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