Whether standard or with special needs, children of all ages may not have the language skills needed to express themselves. Imaginative and creative arts help the children to discover themselves and engage their senses. It also affects how they think and perceives their environment and emotions by creating a sense of calm. Expressing a child’s feelings in a poem, song, and painting as a fun activity makes a safe space for the child to express their negative feelings and improve their average growth and problem-solving process more quickly.
1. Social development
Developing social skills early is very important for a person’s growth and development. Children who are comfortable in social environments can empathize and communicate and adults or even better. Art therapy provides children with the opportunity to develop their social skills without being judged by their peers, parents, and therapists. Art, especially the performing arts, allows the child to comprehend the differences between people and accept that everyone has a different perception of things.
Many arts can be practiced in groups, and when children are forced to work together, they learn more about the impact of their behavior and actions on others and take responsibility for their work more efficiently. Even in private practice, communication with the therapist or parents still helps them build trust, communication, and social development.
2. cognitive development
The experience of any art is accompanied by learning. Children become familiar with things like colors and shapes or cause-effect relations, choices, and consequences, problem-solving, decision making, and so on while drawing, playing, or dancing. They can also learn how to convey a concept with the help of an image. On a deeper level, it seems that art affects the part of the brain related to learning. In various kinds of art, the senses are associated with thinking. This leads to the development of skills such as understanding patterns, recognizing the difference between imagination and reality, and mentally representing and creating a perception of the world. Generally, art helps the child develop a complex thought process.
3. Emotional development
Art therapy can help children understand better and develop their emotions. It is not always easy to describe anger or hurt in words, but a child can express these feelings in a painting, poem, or dance and help themselves and others understand them. It can also be a starting point for a conversation that leads to a more open expression of feelings and thoughts. At this stage, the therapist, parent, or child may understand and express emotions they did not even know existed before. Engaging in artistic activities also increases children’s self-confidence. Expressing feelings creatively can be both healing and improve wisdom and insight.
4. Physical development
While art therapy has many psychological benefits, it can also improve motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and muscle growth. For example, dance and theater stimulate creativity and move the body. This enhances the multiple senses and teaches children to be more aware of the presence of the body and its use in space. Even drawing or writing that requires less activity can help children increase control of their small arm muscles. The more practical the art activity, the more children will be able to harmonize mind and body, which is an essential step for physical development.
Cases of art therapy used for children
Parsa Peykar says art positively affects performance, mood, cognition, and behavior. This is especially obvious for children with special needs, such as autism, speech disorders, PTSD, retardation, ADD / ADHD, or other mental and behavioral health conditions. Self-expression through art is a way to help children show their individuality and discover their strengths without being judged.
Art therapy for children can also be used in the following cases:
Death of a family member or friend
Childhood harm such as physical, mental, or sexual abuse
Emotional issues such as fear or fear of separation
Improving cognitive abilities
Confronting the challenges of serious diseases such as cancer
Treatment of mental disorders such as schizophrenia or depression
Helping children learn about or cope with a physical disability
Understanding behavioral problems and treating them
The power of art, according to Parsa Peykar:
Art is powerful. Playing a role, singing, drawing, writing poetry, etc., allows people to express themselves and their ideas without the need for words, and as mentioned, this is just one of the many reasons for the popularity of art and the use of art therapy for children.
Having art in a young child’s life is essential for their development, especially if they have specific mental or behavioral problems. However, if your teen has mental health or behavioral issues, it may be best to try other psychotherapy methods and seek professional help.