Last night, your child started complaining about a sore throat. Now they’re coughing, sneezing and haven’t even touched their mac and cheese (uh-oh, something must really be wrong). Whether it’s just a 24-hour bug or an illness that requires a trip to the doctor, it’s no fun to have a sick kid. You’ll do anything to help them feel better—and Dr. Ian Smith, physician, author and host of The Doctors, has a three-word trick we bet you haven’t tried.
Dr. Smith’s three magic words? Paint the sky.
Turn off the cartoons (at least for a few minutes), get out the crayons and paper, and encourage your kiddo to start drawing or painting what they see out the window. “Telling a sick child to paint the sky distracts them from the pain or discomfort of their illness and allows their mind to wander into a magical place where they control the narrative,” Dr. Smith explains. “It’s a fun and comforting process that can take their mind off of what ails them.”
How does it work? “Often the severity of the illness perceived by a child is heightened by their anxiety,” says Dr. Smith. “While physical ailments might need medications or other medical interventions for symptomatic relief, addressing a child's anxiety can also be extremely beneficial.”
And there’s a reason to urge them to draw the sky, as opposed to a cat, princess or Lightning McQueen: “The blue sky with the clouds and sun, moon and stars is a magical place, especially for children,” Dr. Smith says. That means they’ll be so busy letting their imagination run wild that they’ll temporarily forget all about that stuffy nose and scratchy throat.
So grab some crayons. Doctor’s orders.