Stress is taking over everyone’s life. Even toddlers are undergoing a lot of stress these days. A happy childhood is becoming a myth due to the outside competitive world, peer pressure, parental pressure, and the continuous use of gadgets. So during these uncertain times, it’s always beneficial to turn towards arts. Time and again, it’s proven that art is the best platform to express all our emotions and hidden thoughts. So, we can use the same art as therapy for our kids to navigate through these difficult times. In fact, this art therapy can be used for both kids and adults alike.
What is an Art Therapy?
Arts are a powerful medium invented by our ancestors in order to pass on stories from one generation to the other. They used different art forms like drawing, painting, singing, sculpting, dancing, and others to tell a story. That’s the reason why our hearts are filled with awe whenever we see a beautiful art form. The same holds true even when we read a good story, and see a beautiful dance. Most of us would listen to music (irrespective of its genre) and get relaxed.
So, most psychologists have started using these different forms of art in their counseling sessions. They had seen amazing results with their clients – both adults and kids alike. In fact, it opened a new channel of communication for the therapists. The non-communicative people have started expressing their thoughts and emotions in the form of art. So, many counselors have started implementing this therapy in their sessions.
Art therapy uses creative/expressive art forms during the counseling sessions under the specific guidance of the art therapists. Art therapists are trained people who can identify their clients’ emotional and mental health based on the colors and gestures used by their clients.
Ex: In one of my group workshops, a seven-year-old child used shades of red and brown only to color a mandala drawing, indicating that he was traumatized or agitated by something. Upon discussion, it came out that he had a bad fight with his elder sibling and didn’t know how to express his points clearly to win that argument. Hence he was frustrated.
Most of the time, younger kids are not equipped to express their emotions. Adults are unwilling to express themselves in front of their parents or others due to the fear of judgment. So, Art therapy can replace that void and allow the kids to express what they feel and how they feel without inhibitions.
How Art therapy is handled for Kids:
In any typical art therapy session, we give a choice of art supplies and ask the attendees to pick up a few materials based on their choice and work using them. No judgments will be provided either on the outcome or for the supplies used. Depending on the age of the participants, the art supplies can vary from Play-Doh, building blocks, or Jenga blocks, crayons, watercolors, or paints. Some participants choose to write a story instead of creating an art form or painting. There are people who choose to choreograph a dance for the song they choose, and some try to build a tune.
So, as a therapist, when we conduct these group sessions or 1-on-1 sessions, we offer a choice of materials based on the client’s interests. Then the analysis would be conducted privately and discussed with the individual participants.
What does art therapy do for children?
Since we are talking about raising happy kids using art therapy, let’s first look at the benefits of this therapy on kids.
- Improves their Emotional Intelligence (when they start expressing their emotions through Art)
- Reduces their anxieties and stress
- Improves their cognitive development
- Shows them different directions and thought processes to solve a problem
- Improves their concentration levels
- Boosts their Self Confidence and Self Esteem.
- Increases their Social Interaction skills
What does the research say about this therapy?
Research has shown that art therapy has improved kids’ behavior and reduced stress and anxiety. When these activities are practiced at home, it also improves the bonding between the parents and children. It has been shown that practicing art therapy regularly improves moods, reduces disruptive behaviors, and reduces stress and anxiety levels. A lot of case studies have been reported in the literature that art therapy has helped even patients with acute physical illnesses.
Can this therapy be used at home?
Even though we are not trained art therapists, we can still leverage the benefits of art therapy at home. In fact, you really don’t have to be good or excellent in arts; your passion and interest would be sufficient to start introducing art therapy to kids. The following are some of the activities which we can implement at home.
- We can involve our kids in the decoration activities during the festival time.
- We can guide our kids to prepare greeting cards and small craft items as token gifts for friends and family on different occasions.
- We can devote a day to painting or singing, or dancing as a family, which improves family bonding.
- We can design a wall as emotions wall in the house and can use it to vent out feelings.
- We can even ask our child to write stories or letters expressing their emotions, without giving any prompts. For younger kids, prompts will help them to weave a story.
Arts need not have to be treated just as hobbies or professions. We can also leverage the different art forms for our learning as well as enjoyment. We will find new ways to express our feelings and emotions through arts and that’s the reason why arts are called expressive forms.
Do you think your child needs art therapy or whether you would like one? In case if you feel the need to enroll your child in any of my art therapy sessions, please feel free to book a session. In case, if you want to explore more about art therapy and understand its details, you can even book a free call with me. Always, do remember that “an Emotionally Intelligent Child will become a Happy and Emotionally Strong Adult of tomorrow“.
Suhasini, IP, is the Author of the book “Practical Tips for Kids Mental Health.” As a certified kids and parents life coach, she helps/guides you toward a happy family life for your kids. She firmly believes, that “Emotionally Happy Kids of today are the Mentally Strong and Happy Citizens of tomorrow.” Let’s make the world a happy and beautiful place for our kids to thrive.