Have you noticed how children’s classrooms, reading books, hospital wings, even their clothes are so colourful. I don’t think the colour grey comes to mind when we think ‘kids’.
This is because colours help in expression and communication. While we wait for the human brain to continue to develop intellectually over the course of infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, waiting for these kids to keep getting smarter, they need to take advantage of as much audio and visual aids as much as possible to help them process emotions, complexities of the social world and all the new information and knowledge they are bombarded with on daily basis.
The reason why Art Therapy has taken eminence over the years is precisely because of the advantages it presents. Thankfully, this is also something that can be pursued in the safety of our homes during these trying times with the lingering fear of Covid 19. When it comes to Art there is no right or wrong.
There is no why! Infact art helps in processing not only conscious emotions and thought processes but also helps in liberating those in our subconscious or unconscious.
Have you ever been surprised by something you were mindlessly doodling on a piece of paper and it turned into a specific shape? Just like that the process of drawing, giving shape to their thoughts, adding colours, helps children give a voice to what they are feeling, thinking, what they desire, what they don’t like or want without having to struggle with socially appropriate words and communication styles which they are yet to learn.
This is specially advantageous when struggling with managing difficult emotions in children during the lockdown when they already have restrictions of physical and social boundaries imposed on them. Everytime I have children visiting my therapy set up they always find a few games, colourful blocks and puzzles-but one “must” item which is an instant hit is the art file and a few blank sheets with crayons and sketch pens and sometimes even paints!
I am amazed at every time how they are able to express “how I feel” while drawing, it could be a simple circle indicating this is a person and a cross over that circle indicating I’m angry with them or I don’t want them around.
They even learn to vent out all that anger and progress to forgiveness and express away all the things that make them happy. You would be surprised to learn all the hidden love, anger, confusion, fears, joys in your 5 year olds’ or 10 year old’s mind when they get a chance to express it on a blank sheet of paper with a few colours.
Good news is that it requires no artistic skills or training. However it is important to keep in mind that while using art as a way to express and encourage kids to process their emotions, Art Therapy is a more formal therapeutic technique used by a trained professional in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques such as talk therapy to facilitate change, processing trauma or complex emotions, which helps to develop healthy communication skills and awareness of emotions and ways to regulate them.
So I strongly recommend taking advantage of this medium especially when it comes at no extra cost, easy to manage while staying indoors and helps the parent or the supervising adult remain sane while managing their child’s behaviour and emotions.