We’ve all been there: You’ve just watched a child shift from an epic meltdown to a calmer, more controlled mood when they become engaged with a new activity like coloring or playing with clay. While we’re certainly thankful for the change in moods, it can sometimes leave us perplexed at the seemingly speedy adjustment. There’s a reason for that. Art can be incredibly therapeutic for kids, helping them to process their big emotions in a healthy way.
It’s no secret that kids feel things deeply. Unfortunately, they don’t always have the words to express what they’re going through emotionally. That’s where art comes in to save the day…or at least the moment. Art, color, and quiet play can help children process their big emotions in a healthy way.
Why is art so therapeutic for kids?
There are a few reasons. First of all, art provides a much-needed outlet for emotions that might otherwise feel overwhelming. It’s also a non-verbal way to communicate, which can be helpful for kids who struggle to put their feelings into words. And finally, the creative process can be calming and centering, helping kids to feel more in control of themselves and their emotions.
Of course, not every child is going to respond to art in the same way.
Some kids might prefer painting or drawing, while others might prefer sculpting or working with clay. And that’s OK! The important thing is to provide kids with a variety of options and let them choose what feels right for them at their moment of need.
Art Allows Children to Express Themselves Freely
When children are trying to work through big emotions, they often don’t know how to express themselves in the way that many adults have learned (and are still learning!) to do. Art provides an outlet for them to express themselves freely, without judgment. Children can use art to communicate their feelings, work through difficult situations, and process their emotions in a healthy way.
Color Can Help Children Identify Their Emotions
For children, colors can be very powerful. Certain colors can evoke certain emotions. For example, red is often associated with anger and frustration, and blue with sadness and fear while green can make people feel calm and peaceful. By incorporating color into their art, children can begin to identify their own emotions and understand how to process them.
Play Can Help Children Work Through Their Emotions
Play is an important part of childhood development. It helps children explore their imaginations, work through conflict, and develop social skills. When children are feeling big emotions, play can help them work through those emotions in a safe and healthy way. Through play, children can learn how to cope with their feelings and develop skills that will last a lifetime.
Art, color, and play are all important tools that can help children process their big emotions in a healthy way. As a parent, you can encourage your child to express themselves through art, explore their emotions with color, and work through their feelings with play. By providing your child with these outlets, you’ll be helping them develop the skills they need to cope with their emotions in a healthy way.
Let’s Talk About it!
Now that emotions have cooled (both adults and children alike), it’s time to talk. Perhaps not when they’re engaged in play – that’s a great time for you to take a breather, too! But if possible, revisit the situation before the end of the day or soon thereafter. And don’t worry – you can take a gentle plunge into the conversation but it’s important to understand what happened, why and how we can respond differently in the future.
Perhaps when its time to get ready for bed or before reading a book, you can open the conversation with, “Hey, can we talk about what happened earlier? – What do you think happened?”
From there, engage with validation and questions like, “Oh, I’ve definitely felt upset/mad/sad before, too.”
“I’m so proud of you for sharing how you felt!”
“Do you want to know what I do when I feel like that?”
“Will you practice what we can do next time?” – You and your child can try counting together, breathing slowly, communicating our feelings calmly and respectfully, and don’t forget art and play!
Art as therapy
Dealing with big emotions can feel scary but just as we remind children – You can do hard things! If you have a child who is struggling to process their emotions, art might be just what they need. Art provides a much-needed outlet for big feelings, it’s a non-verbal way to communicate, and the creative process can be calming and centering. Paired with a little gentle supportive communication, you’ve got a few key ingredients to a fantastic recipe for emotional success.
Plus, there’s no one right way to do art – so let your child explore and see what feels best for them!