The Importance of Emotional Wellness in Children

Children are born with vivid imaginations, making art a perfect way to bring their ideas to life. Through artistic activities, kids can play and explore different colors, shapes, and objects. Besides these, art therapy can also help improve their emotional well-being.

This article will introduce you to art therapy activities that help children understand and manage their emotions.

Wellness


The Importance of Emotional Wellness in Children

Emotional wellness means keeping a healthy balance of emotions. It involves being aware of, understanding, and managing your feelings to maintain good emotional health. A child who is emotionally healthy can handle life's challenges, perform well in school, and build meaningful relationships.

Emotional wellness and academic performance

A child's emotions can greatly affect their school performance. Think about a child dealing with unresolved anger. If they can't cope well, they might have trouble focusing in class or working with teachers and classmates, which can hurt their grades.

A 2010 study with 325 five-year-olds looked at how managing emotions (emotional regulation) affects school performance when starting kindergarten. The study found that teachers reported better school performance in kids who managed their emotions well. This was also seen in their literacy and math test scores.

Emotional wellness and relationships

Handling emotions is also crucial for a child's relationships with others. For instance, a child with strong emotional regulation skills can express their feelings and needs clearly. This helps them become better communicators, which is key to building and maintaining relationships.

A 2023 study examined how well kids aged 4 to 6 manage their emotions and how this affects their relationships with peers. The study found that kids with good emotional regulation skills had better relationships with their peers.

The researchers noted that kids who manage their emotions well are calmer and seek pro-social solutions during conflicts. They also avoid hurting others, making them more likable.

Emotional wellness and recognizing what you can control

Kids who can let go of things beyond their control and focus on what they can control are better at managing their emotions.

For example, a child who faces harsh criticism can understand that they can't control others' tone or delivery. Because of this, they can choose not to dwell on the harsh tone and focus on responding calmly.

Kids can manage emotions using the Circle of Control. This tool helps them visualize and categorize life aspects into things they can control, influence, or cannot control. It has three circles:

Circle of Control: The innermost circle represents areas of life you have direct control over, like your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors.
Circle of Influence: The middle circle includes aspects of life you may not have direct control over but can influence to some extent.

Some examples are other people's opinions and actions, school friendships, and family relationships.

Circle of Concern: This outer circle includes things you might worry about but can't control. These include the weather, natural events, or other people's health.

Teaching kids about the Circle of Control can help them manage their emotions better. It helps them see that it's okay to feel different emotions and that they can control how they deal with these feelings. It also teaches them to accept things they can't change, reducing unnecessary worry.

The Benefits of Art Therapy for Children

Art therapy is a way to use creative activities to help kids understand their emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It can be especially helpful for children facing emotional challenges.

Many therapists use art to help children, but there are also art therapists who are specially trained in this method.

Art therapists can help kids understand feelings they might find hard to express in words. This approach is used for children dealing with anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and low self-esteem.

You can also use art therapy techniques at home or school to help kids connect with their emotions. It allows them to express their feelings when they can't find the right words. This can help them open up and communicate more freely.

Additionally, art can be a great way to handle stress, anxiety, and other tough emotions because it helps kids relax. Completing an art project can also give kids a sense of achievement, boosting their confidence.

Understanding Different Art Therapy Techniques

Art therapy uses various methods, such as:

Drawing and Coloring

Most kids know how to draw and color, so this technique can be easily used when they feel stressed or anxious. Activities like doodling, sketching, and coloring mandalas can be done anytime and anywhere with just some drawing materials and paper.

For example, a 2015 study looked at how two types of coloring activities affected children's test anxiety. One group colored mandalas, and the other did free coloring. Both groups showed reduced anxiety.

Interestingly, boys had a greater reduction in anxiety with free coloring, while girls benefited more from mandala coloring. The researchers suggested letting children choose the art activity they prefer.

Painting as Art Therapy

Painting involves using pigments like oil, acrylic, and watercolor on surfaces such as canvas, paper, wood, or fabric. Like drawing, painting allows kids to tell stories, share their emotions, or communicate ideas.

Research has shown that painting can help kids deal with negative emotions.

In a 2017 study, researchers looked at how painting sessions could help kids with cancer undergoing chemotherapy cope with depression.

The study included children aged 7 to 12. Results indicated that those who took part in painting sessions had notably lower depression scores.

Sculpting for Art Therapy

Sculpting involves making three-dimensional objects from materials like clay. Unlike drawing or painting, it adds depth, letting kids move the artwork around and view it from different angles. Kids can directly manipulate the material in sculpting, adding a tactile element.

A review in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association found that using hands to work with clay can help express emotions. This technique also allows for the release of pent-up emotions (catharsis). It can symbolize thoughts or feelings, creating meaningful symbols.

Collage-Making

Collage-making is an art form where various materials like photos, magazine cutouts, fabric, and other objects are glued onto a surface. It allows kids to be flexible and creative due to the diverse materials that can be used.

Collage-making can be therapeutic because it lets kids use materials with sentimental value to create a piece that reflects their thoughts and emotions. When making collages, kids can choose materials that resonate with them.

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