It’s the first day of Spring! How are you doing?
This question might feel overwhelming. It can be difficult to answer such a broad, vague question, especially if your day has included complicated, nuanced, or challenging moments (as most days do while we continue to navigate this pandemic!).
I’m sure you’ve had the experience of asking your child about their day, and then feeling frustrated or disappointed when all you get back is a quick “Fine” or “Okay.”
But sometimes it’s just so difficult to even know where to begin when we are asked about how we’re really doing.
I’ve learned that offering some playful structure is a helpful way to invite more detailed responses.
I like to begin my art therapy sessions with a check in. This allows me to get a sense of where my client is at, and to respond appropriately based on what might be helpful or needed in the moment.
Recently I created a new structure for my check in questions using the metaphor of a rainbow. I love using weather metaphors because they are universally relatable and accessible. As spring arrives and snow turns to rain again, rainbow season is on the horizon!
Rainbows are such a delightful example of everyday magic, and lots of kiddos get excited about them. It’s also a fun tie-in to art therapy because we use rainbow colours in our art making.
Here’s how the rainbow check in works. Invite your child to reflect on their day/ week. Using the metaphor of sunshine, rain, and a rainbow, ask the following questions:
🌞 What was a sunny spot in your day/week? This might be something that went really well, or that brought you joy, or a time when you felt emotions that are comfortable for you.
🌧 Did you have any rainy moments today/ this week? These might be moments of challenge or disappointment, or times when you felt more uncomfortable emotions.
🌈 What was your rainbow today/ this week? This might be an unexpected joy, a moment of kindness from a friend, something that made you laugh, or a time when you chose to make the best of it. It might also be something you’re looking forward to.
This format is inspired by the “rose, thorn, bud” check in that I learned years ago at summer camp. At the end of the day, each camper was invited to share their rose (something positive from the day), their thorn (something challenging about the day), and their rose bud (something they are looking forward to).
When faced with challenges, it can be tempting to paint the entire day as “A BAD DAY,” and overlook the fact that there were also some sunny moments.
This kind of a structured check in invites us to explore a more balanced (and probably more accurate) perspective. I love how the rainbow, often considered a symbol of hope, can inspire us to make connections between the “negatives” and “positives.”
If you like this idea of the rainbow check in, I created a free printable PDF so you can use it at home. You can hang it on your fridge, post it beside your kiddo’s bed, or print a copy for each family member and fill it out together after dinner!
Click the links below to access the PDF, with either a white or a pink background.
My hope is that this template can be a guide to share genuine curiosity about your child’s inner world while providing structure so that the questions don’t feel too overwhelming.
If you would like to share your sunny spot, rainy moment, and rainbow, I would love to hear about them! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me @resourcefulmearttherapy on Instagram.
Thinking of you!
Written by Rubi Garyfalakis, DTATI, RP, RCAT