Cover Image
close this bookTechnical notes: Special Considerations for Programming in Unstable Situations (UNICEF, 2000, 490 p.)
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1. Protecting and Promoting Health
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 1: Assuring Basic Health Care Services
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 2: Immunization (Measles and other EPI Antigens)
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 3: Diarrhoeal Disease Control
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 4: Containing Outbreaks of Cholera, Dysentery and Typhoid
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 5: Control of Acute Respiratory Infections
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 6: Essential Drugs and Supplies
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 7: Management, Control and Prevention of the Most Common Communicable Diseases
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 8: Protecting Pregnancy in Emergencies
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 9: Prevention and Treatment of STDs/HIV/AIDS
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Annex 10: Health Monitoring and Surveillance
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2: Supporting Nutritional Needs
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2 - Annex 1: Therapy for Severe Malnutrition
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2 - Annex 2: Assessing Nutritional Status
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2 - Annex 3: Assessing Household Food Security
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2 - Annex 4: Infant Feeding in Emergencies: Policy, Strategy & Practice
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2 - Annex 5: Malnutrition, Nutrient Requirements and Nutrient Sources
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 3: Ongoing Education
View the documentChapter 3 - Annex 1: Information Gathering and Needs Assessment
View the documentChapter 3 - Annex 2: Guidelines for Teacher Training
View the documentChapter 3 - Annex 3: Educational Kits (Edukits)
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 3 - Annex 4: Education for Peace and Conflict Resolution
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 4: Children Separated from Families
View the documentChapter 4 - Annex 1: Identification Photographs in Family Tracing
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 5 - Internally Displaced Children and Women
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 6: Anti-Personnel Landmines
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 6 - Annex 1: Landmine/UXO Awareness: Curriculum ContentFootnote
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 6 - Annex 2: Feasibility Study and Needs Assessment *
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 7: Protecting the Rights of the Child
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 7 - Annex 1: Evacuation of Children from Conflict Situations
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 8: Gender Issues
View the documentChapter 8 - Annex 1: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 18 December 1979 (extracts)
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 9: Early Childhood Development and Protection
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 9 - Annex 1: Violence and Young Children: Behavioural Consequences
View the documentChapter 9 - Annex 2: Therapeutic Language: Talking with Distressed Children
View the documentChapter 9 - Annex 3: The Healing Role of Play and Art
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 9 - Annex 4: Building Resilience: Implications for Programmes
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 10: Young People, with a Focus on AdolescentsFootnote 1
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 10 - Annex 1: Safe Places for Young People
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 11: Sexual Violence
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 12 - Child Combatants
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 13: Children in Detention
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 13 - Annex 1: Juvenile Justice
View the documentChapter 13 - Annex 2: Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948 (extracts)
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 14: Protecting Psychosocial Development
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 14 - Annex 1: Copyright of Original Art/Writings Created by Children
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 15: The Impact of Sanctions
View the documentChapter 15 - Annex 1: Reducing the Negative Humanitarian Impact of Sanctions
View the documentChapter 16: Human Rights SITAN
View the documentChapter 16 - Annex 1: Institutionalising Human Rights
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 17: Managing Water Resources
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 17 - Annex 1: Distribution and Storage of Water
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 17 - Annex 2: Water Sources (Exploitation and Rehabilitation)
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 17 - Annex 3: Water Quality and Treatment
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 17 - Annex 4: Water Pumps, Pipes and Fittings
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 17 - Annex 5: Water and Sanitation in Urban Areas
View the documentChapter 17 - Annex 6: Water Assessment Checklistnote
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 18: Supporting Shelter and Domestic Needs
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 19: Developing Sanitation Systems & Approaches
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 19 - Annex 1: Types of Latrine
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 19 - Annex 2: Disposing of Excreta
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 19 - Annex 3: Environmental Sanitation
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 19 - Annex 4: Vector Control (Control of disease-carrying insects and rodents)
View the documentCharter of the United Nations

Chapter 9 - Annex 3: The Healing Role of Play and Art

Across cultures, children’s play involves the same themes - nurturing, family relationships and roles of people. Children seek to understand reality through play -there are no expected outcomes and children are free from failure. Through play, children are free to explore, invent and test possibilities. Children develop physical, social and mathematical knowledge in play. They find out how things work. In play, children experiment with numbers and construct ideas about the relationships between objects. Children at play are constantly at work - adding new observations, asking and responding to questions, and making choices. The insight gained provides children with problem-solving tools. Thus, play, in and of itself, is self-healing.

Children are able to deal with complex psychological difficulties through play. They seek to integrate the experience of pain, fear and loss. They wrestle with concepts of good and evil and express ideas for which they have no meaning. Children who live in dangerous environments play the dangerous environment. Children can take control of an event by playing different roles and altering the outcome. In symbolic play, children bridge the gap between reality and fantasy.

Children in situations of armed conflict have a special need for the freedom and emotional release inherent in play. Child-care settings can offer a rich physical environment that encourages individual as well as group play. Mobile play units or settings for children should contain building blocks, a water table and a dramatic play area. Time should be scheduled for drawing, storytelling, writing, games and music. The atmosphere needs to convey acceptance and respect for the children’s play. Play represents children’s innermost thoughts and feelings, and caregivers must be willing to accept all of them.

By providing the opportunity for play and art, caregivers can help children who live in dangerous environments address their complex feelings and concerns. The freedom of expression inherent in children’s playful activity and in their art needs the adult’s approval, permission, assurance, and support. Caregivers also need guidance, support and supervision to develop these important skills.

Drawing and painting

Like play, children’s drawing and painting is a spontaneous and deeply rooted activity. Drawings represent the child’s mental pictures and perceptions of the world. When given the opportunity, children all over the world enjoy drawing. When paper and crayons are not available, children use their fingers or a stick to scribble in the earth or snow.

Along with drawings of real events, children draw fantasies. When Palestinian children who have known no other environment than a barren refugee camp in the West Bank drew pictures, they added the flowers and butterflies they rarely encountered. For young children, the line between fantasy and reality is flexible. That flexibility may enable children to use play for emotional release, but it may also cloud their perception of environmental risk.

Adults understand that there are no monsters under the bed or in the closet at night, but children do not. Keeping real and imagined fears in perspective is a difficult task for young children. In their drawings, children give the adult a door to open. The door leads to conversations about experiences. Through these conversations, the adult can help the children find meaning that enables them to cope.

Although drawing and painting are beneficial for children of all ages, they are particularly useful for child whose language skills cannot convey the subtleties and intensities of their feelings. Children can obtain tremendous relief from drawing their fears and wishes. Children’s drawings can be used to elicit feelings and concerns on a one-to-one basis as well as in group settings.

Writing and storytelling

For most children, healing childhood stress and trauma depends on the strength of the adult-child relationships. Adults must be prepared to listen to children tell their stories on their own terms. The acceptance of the child’s reality is the starting point for the process of healing. “It is the permissiveness to be themselves, the understanding, the acceptance, the recognition of feeling, the clarification of what they think and feel that helps children retain their self-respect, and the possibilities of growth and change are forthcoming as they all develop insight” (Axlin, 1969).

A variety of writing and storytelling techniques can increase children’s opportunities to develop language and expressive skills. One method relies on verbal rather than visual images and allows a child’s imagination to create scenes of punishment and reward, anger and love. The storytelling format may use props such as family dolls, and sentence-completion exercises which provide children with an outlet for expressing in story form their responses to violence and armed conflict. Some additional activities include the following.

Bag-of-words game

This techniques can be used with individual children or in a group. The caregiver collects objects and places them in a bag. A child is asked to remove an object from the bag and tell a story about it. The facilitator can encourage children to discuss a particular topic by choosing the objects. The objective is to facilitate children’s expression of their inner feelings and concerns, and to explore the affective nature of events that occur in their lives (Gardener, 1975)

Squiggle game

In this game, a care giver makes a squiggle mark on a piece of paper and gives it to a child. The child is asked to make a picture from the squiggle. Upon completion, the teacher asks the child to tell a story about the drawing. From the child’s story, the teacher learns the theme of the child’s thought and can identify the effect attached to the story. Using the child’s lead, the teacher asks the child to draw a squiggle, which the teacher completes. In creating a story, the teacher can offer alternative outcomes to the child’s story in an effort to help the child understand his feelings.

Puppets

In the hands of a creative and responsive adult, puppet play offers an ideal arena for playing out difficult themes and issues. Puppets provide children with an outlet for feelings of helplessness while at the same time providing the possibility of problem solving.

Dolls

The young child who fears danger may try to master this fear through doll play that enacts scenes of comforting and nurturing. The child identifies with the doll that is comforted, thus simultaneously permitting expressions of the fear and its resolution. Doll play frequently takes the form of the child simultaneously identifying with both baby and nurturer.

Clay

The possibilities of doing and undoing implicit in the medium of clay make it useful for symbolic acting out of aggressive impulses and identification with the aggressor. It offers the child a fantasy means of controlling the outcome.

Board games

The competitive aspects of many board games lends special significance to their use with children responding to the stress of war. While winning and losing is always an issue for children, the role of winner takes on special significance during times of conflict when children have a heightened sense of right and wrong, winner and loser.