I am always looking for something to “do” with the children I work with. One of the reasons Play Therapy is so helpful to children and teens is that we don’t have to “just talk”. I will be the first one to admit that I have a problem sitting still and just talking. I want to be “doing” something! Most children are the same way. When they are active, they are learning. When they are learning, they are developing new skills. Play helps expand self-expression, self-knowledge, and self-efficacy. As parents we know that play helps to connect people.
This activity works well for children ages 7 and up. They need to be able to follow instructions and process feelings.
So for years I’ve always looked for ways to interact with the children who come to me for help. A long time ago I began learning how to mosaic. Not just the typical macaroni noodles, but with tile, broken ceramics, any thing I could find. It must have been sometime after Easter while trying to figure out what to do with all those discarded plastic eggs that my boys didn’t want to keep and had no use for after the candy was long gone.
I taught this at a state mental health annual conference on two different occasions Of course you can use this technique to help with many other problems; anger, fears, stress, etc.
So here’s how it works:
The Worry Egg is a wonderful way to allow children to let go of some of their anxieties and worries. There is also always a sense of accomplishment and pride in the finished work. (Thus improving self-esteem)
First Session—Materials Needed for Mosaic art/craft work:
- Plastic Easter egg
- Tiles, broken ceramic pieces, etc…. (your limited only by your imagination)
- Glue: liquid nails works well with ceramic, silicone or Welbond works with non-porous such as glass tiles. I also use Mastic for ceramic tile. It’s more economical.
- Grout. Can get this from Lowe’s about $8 for 10 lb bag of white.
- Water to mix grout, (I use throw away bowls, and coffee cups). One Large bowl to use to clean with.
- Rubber disposable gloves. It’s not poisonous but difficult to get residue off hands, and tends to make hands feel dry.
- Disposable bowl and a coffee cup.
Step One: To being, process with the child (or adult even) what “worries” mean to them and what they really are. Explain that worries are, what it means to worry, and how they effect us. A worry is when we allow our minds to continually dwell on something that troubles us or some difficulty in life. Usually they are things we can’t immediately change. Worries are time consuming. This time used to worry could be used for other,, more enjoyable things. Often worry doesn’t produce changes, can’t change the problem and wastes hours that one can never get back. Worries can be destructive, burdensome, and can make us physically and emotionally sick. Worries are actually, in part, a fear. They can drain your, make you weak, and often become barriers to enjoyments in life. You can add anything you like regarding worries, as long as the person understands that a worry is not productive and keeps one from over coming a fear, or problem,
Step Two Ask the child to write down their ONE most important or consistent worry on a piece of paper. What do they spend their time worrying about? What have they missed out on because of their worry. What is it that they spend so much time worrying about that they are distracted, and unable to focus on more important things. It usually works best when it is only ONE worry, but there have been times where it was necessary to place more than one. Usually though the others are secondary to the first. With the first being the most important.
STEP THREE: Place the paper in the egg and close it. The purpose is to allow the egg to “hold” their worry for them. It’s important for them to place it in the egg their selves, being sure that the paper is fully enclosed, and the egg is shut tight. We don’t want the worry to get out of the egg. Ask them how it could get out. Usually they will tell you only if they open it. So now we are going to fix it so that it can’t be open. We want it to have a place but not be able to get out. Also, allow them to feel that they are giving the egg their worry for safe keeping. They need to feel like they are giving over the worry to the egg to hold and do the worrying for them.
Step Three: begin by gluing the egg with some sort of heavy glue (I use liquid nails but if you do be sure you have paper towels near by and give them instructions to NOT wipe this glue on their clothes) So obviously this shouldn’t be done with children under an age who are incapable of understanding this. Elmer’s glue doesn’t work with glass or ceramic on the plastic egg.
Begin gluing tile pieces (or other material) on to the egg. Once the egg is enclosed with tiles, allow it to dry until the next session.
Second session, grout the egg.
- Mix some grout in small bowl (that can be thrown away) with water until the consistence of peanut butter. You will not need much water for this. I wear the gloves for this.
- Cover egg with grout being sure to fill in all crevices. This should be fun for the child as they are able to feel the texture of the grout and the tiles.
- Allow egg to dry for approximately 10 minutes. During this time you can remind the child of the anxiety in the egg and about how they will begin to allow the egg to do the worrying for them.
- Wipe the egg off with an old towel removing as much grout that way as possible.
- If needed, you can use a slightly wet sponge or towel to complete the cleaning process.
- IMPORTANT! DO NOT WASH GROUT OR HANDS IN THE SINK. Doing so may stop up your sink. Grout is like concrete. I usually dump the bowl out outside and allow it to dry without rinsing it out. I only use the bowl for this use so it works fine the next time. Mix only the grout you feel you will use at the time as grout is not reusable once mixed. If grout is not thick enough, you can add more dry grout or allow to sit for a few minutes and it will thicken.