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For both adults and children, coloring can help reduce stress. This adult-child collaborative coloring page promotes relaxed time together. As you color, try paying attention to the details of the design, the sensation of the pencil on the page, and encourage children to do the same.

In the aftermath of trauma, when our brains may be “hijacked” by fear, anxiety, or anger, a nonverbal activity such as coloring or doing a jigsaw puzzle together can help us reconnect and get “unstuck.”

This collaborative coloring page can help adults communicate important ideas without saying a word: We can relax together. We can have a good time together. We can concentrate. I am here with you. I am listening. I am interested in you. We can share feelings. We can make something beautiful, even when the world around us feels ugly.

Kids can use crayons or markers. Colored pencils or thin-tipped markers work well for the detailed “adult” areas, but crayons will work too!

  • Sit side by side with the child, in a quiet space with a surface. You might put on music you both like.
  • Kids color the large Muppet image, adults color the more detailed background.
  • Remember there’s no right or wrong way to color; the goal is to sit and relax together. It’s okay to sit without talking, too!
  • Show pride in your child’s accomplishment.
  • Help them remember the time you spent together by displaying the completed page.

Before, during, or after coloring, try these ideas:

  • Say, “Big Bird feels cozy and safe in his nest. Where do you go to feel like that?”
  • Ask, “Would you like to have your very own nest? Why or why not?”
  • Ask, “If you had a nest, what would you do there? What would you want to keep in there to feel calm and safe?”
  • Display your work at home!