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Developing Children's Emotions through Art

Artistic Therapies for Kids

Generating a real product that expresses feelings can develop confidence and cultivate feelings of self-worth in children. Children experience self-fulfillment from the artistic process of being creative and analyzing reasons behind the product they created.

Children visually articulate emotions and fears that they cannot express through traditional methods. By using art children gain feelings of control over the situations they are facing. They can alsoreflect on their artwork and perhaps realize the extent of their emotions and the triggers for such feelings.

Art can reduce the intensity or amount of stressful feelings. Frequent stress can be detrimental to both our psyche and our body. 

Insomnia, anxiety, depression, weakened immune systems and other stress symptoms are all possible results from living in a state of high stress. Artistic pursuits can augment amounts of serotonin in the brain which is likely to be beneficial as it fights depression. Developing emotions through art is a great way to build your child's skills in expressing emotions.

Here are some ways you can use art to promote emotional development: 

Clay Modeling

Working with clay is therapeutic and relaxing. Children can express themselves in any manner by using this type of medium. The actual use of clay has been found to physically reduce stress and anxiety in both adults and children. As a parent having clay available at home provides another outlet for tension and stress to fade away. 

  1. Play relaxing music in the background
  2. Give your child a ball of clay.
  3. Ask your child to massage the clay while thinking about a strong feeling they have experienced in the past week.
  4. Children can create any representation of the feeling they experienced with their clay ball.
  5. After clay has dried, ask your child to paint their artwork as the colors used will also help to express the emotion more clearly.

Painting/Drawing and Emotional Literacy

Allowing children to paint and draw to express what is happening in their lives is a valuable tool. These types of art activities are really helpful, especially in reluctant talkers. Children can express feelings of being torn apart by divorce, low self esteem and many other things through pictures instead of words. They say a picture tells 1000 words are certainly true if children are expressing themselves fully.

  1. Discuss with children different emotions. What images can they think of that would represent such emotions (e.g. an erupting volcano for anger or a lightening bolt, rain for sadness, sunshine for happiness) What could emotions look like?
  2. If possible show pictures on an Interactive Whiteboard or from magazines and discuss the emotions that are felt and why? Do colors play any part in these feelings? Also by bringing pictures by great artists such the The Scream (Munch), Starry Night(Vincent Van Gogh), The Dream (Picasso) and many others 
  3. Give students as many opportunities as possible to draw or paint their own feelings and express themselves artistically as well as verbally and in writing.


Artistic Reflection and Literature

Art can be used as a response to stories as well. After reading stories with your child discuss the emotions certain characters may have felt.

  1. Ask your child to imagine how characters in the story may have felt. Discuss in small groups and then revert back to the whole class.
  2. Give your child the opportunity to produce a collage, paint or draw how they perceive the character may have felt. 
  3. This can also be used to express situations that happen at school (eg bullying, fights, feeling left out etc) and can help children to become more empathetic of others.


Emotion and Art

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