Things to Do for Counselors With 3 to 5-Year-Olds

A child's drawing provides much insight into her thoughts and feelings.
A child's drawing provides much insight into her thoughts and feelings. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Children ages three to five may benefit from counseling if they have experienced trauma, anxiety or depression. Younger children struggle to identify emotions and have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. Counselors working with young children use creative techniques to help children express themselves. Young children cannot participate in traditional talk therapy and require interactive resources to express themselves through non-verbal activities.


Young children often draw pictures about their feelings and this provides a helpful therapeutic activity. A child who has difficulty verbalizing what happens at home may draw a picture depicting family activities. Children often use art to show their dreams or fears. Directive art projects include asking a child to draw a picture of their family or something that causes her to feel scared. Non-directive art provides the child with various art tools and the child decides what to create.

Therapeutic Books

Reading therapeutic books to children provides them with an interactive way to learn about feelings and solving problems. Children often enjoy hearing stories about characters who may experience problems and situations similar to what they experience. For example, children placed in foster care may learn about the foster care system and what to expect from a foster home through the use of a book that engages their attention while explaining common experiences in foster care.

Sand Tray Therapy

Sand tray therapy provides a non-directive approach that helps children express themselves. The child creates a scene in a tray of sand using a variety of miniature objects such as houses, people, monsters, and animals. Over a number of sessions, the themes of the sand tray play tend to change. As children offer a visual representation of their experiences and feelings, the therapist assists with offering metaphors about the story.

Directive or Non-Directive Play

Children tend to act out their feelings and problems through play. Traumatized children often re-enact traumatic events. Providing children with items such as a doll house, dolls and puppets offer them an opportunity to work through various issues. Non-directive approaches allow children to use any toys to engage in play of their choosing. Directive play guides children to work on certain issues with specific toys.

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