Art therapy helps children establish an emotional well-being

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Art therapy helps children establish an emotional well-being
Children are naturally creative so it is easier for them to pour out their thoughts into drawings

The activity is an ideal way to let young ones communicate their deepest thoughts with their family

By Priya Arjun

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Published: Thu 30 Mar 2017, 11:09 AM

From the moment a mother conceives, the physical well-being of the child receives high priority, but how often do we consider emotional well-being in children to be as important as healthy diet and exercise?
Raising an emotionally healthy child means raising a happy and confident child. He or she is caring, has deep attentive listening skills and is sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, which are reflected in problem-solving skills. It could be as simple as offering a lending hand to carry heavy bags for a neighbour, or picking up a banana peel and throwing it into a trash bin to prevent someone from a fall. A child with emotional intelligence would not hesitate to seek help in times of difficulty, especially if he realises he cannot handle the situation by himself. Flexibility is another trait shown by emotionally healthy children; this enables them to approach relationships and situations with openness and curiosity.
Keep in mind that if children have to show empathy, they need to be treated empathetically by parents and the teachers in return. Children get emotional nourishment when given a healthy dose of love, quality time and non-judgemental support from parents who see the best in them. They also observe and learn from adults, which is why parents need to set an example in various situations, acknowledge different emotions and teach them how to make amends.
For modern-day parents, children are a priority over everything else. While they centre their daily lives on kids - from homework and play dates to sports and cultural activities - they run the risk of neglecting their emotional needs. Lack of support in expressing themselves could be a reason children display poor emotional health, social behaviour and learning difficulties. Art as a therapy can help gauge the inner world of children and respond to individual emotional needs in this case.
Children are naturally creative, so it is easier for them to pour out their thoughts and feelings into paintings or drawings. Those who are reluctant, scared, shy, or demonstrate limited vocabulary find it difficult to express themselves in standard counselling or clinical settings. But art can serve as a creative and safe medium to share emotions and experiences in a non-verbal fashion. 
An art therapist could help parents decipher the meaning behind their creations and discuss issues that may have inspired the artwork. This provides an opening for the therapist to get to the root of the problem. School art therapists work with teachers, counsellors and parents to establish goals and objectives to support children with emotional conflicts, behavioural issues and learning disabilities.
Factors that affect emotional well-being include bullying, busy parents who focus only on academic performance with no time to listen to their child's feelings and thoughts, pressure from high expectations in school and family environment, emotional conflicts at home, negative disciplinary methods, and fear.
In conclusion, art captures hidden dreams, stories, desires and current emotional circumstances in one's life and has a therapeutic effect. Hence, it can be a great way to improve emotional and social outcomes in children. It also prepares them to cope with changes and challenges in later years of life, by establishing emotional resilience and balance.
- The writer is a certified holistic health coach and a member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

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