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Edith Kramer, a pioneer in the field of Art Psychotherapy, created the ‘scribble game’ for use in the early stages of therapy. Her idea was to create an unthreatening way for children to express themselves and open up about emotional issues.

In this article, Children and Young People Counsellor Sinead Rowe looks at how the scribble game can be a useful way for parents or caregivers to engage, communicate and nurture trust with their child.

Using the scribble game to help kids open up about emotions


For parents and carers, the scribble game can be a useful tool to help a child relax. This is especially the case if you want to talk to them about an emotive subject, or if they appear to be struggling with an issue but are unwilling to discuss it.

The exercise can open a discussion about how they are feeling or which emotions, if any, they are experiencing.

scribble game - scribbles on a piece of paper

The scribble game in practice


Before you start, make sure to have lots of paper and crayons, pencils or pens for the scribbles and other creative materials if you have them (e.g. glue, glitter, stickers).

  1. Ask your child to make a scribble on the page. Not of anything or anyone, just a scribble
  2. Encourage your child to look at their scribble from different angles and perspectives. Turn the page and ask them to try and ‘see’ a picture in their scribble. If they cannot or are unwilling to, ask them to keep scribbling and try again after a while
  3. Once they have seen a picture in their scribble, ask them to develop what they see, using the materials they choose from your selection.

The technique can help relax children and at the same time can often help bring forth much valuable information. Often the issue or issues a child is struggling with can emerge during this process.

scribble game can be useful in helping a child to open up about difficult emotions

Scribble doubles and ‘scribble tag’ variations


Scribbling back and forth can also promote sensory-based regulation and the challenge of developing the scribble into an art piece can stimulate creativity and encourage children to listen to their own intuition.

There are variations of the game for example, you and your child can take turns to add to the scribble and look together to see an image in it. Alternatively, ‘scribble tag’ sees you and your child scribbling simultaneously and trying to ‘catch’ each other.

Whichever option works best for your child, the end goal is always to help them relax and feel more comfortable talking about their emotions.


Supporting children and young people achieve good mental health

Sometimes children and young people need a little extra support dealing with their emotions. The Spark offers counselling services for children and young people across Scotland. Available online and through Primary and Secondary schools our professional counsellors are here to help them achieve good mental health.

Children And Young People, Mental Health, Parenting, The Spark, Tips, Young People