Art therapy can help children's wellbeing – as well as creating family bonds
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For most parents, children’s art is just something to stick on the fridge and stow away when possible. But those splodgy works of art could actually be a window to their soul. Honestly.
Instead of trying to get young children to talk about how they feel, their drawings can be used to help them express their emotions.
Art psychotherapist Fransie Frandsen says art therapy uses art as a form of communication and expression, helping to identify, convey and process difficult emotions.
Creating art through drawing, painting, colouring or sculpture is also therapeutic in itself, according to Frandsen, whose children’s book Do Grannies Have Green Fingers is about to be published.
“There are many art activities that can be done together at home, which are fun and at the same time hugely beneficial for a child’s wellbeing,” she says.
Here, she suggests five fun art activities that will help children and families bond and express their emotions…
1. Draw a mandala
The word ‘mandala’ means circle in ancient Sanskrit and is a pattern with a circle within a circle, representing the universe.
Start by drawing or tracing a small circle in the centre and then continue drawing a few outward concentric circles and patterns to complete the mandala.
Because of the repetitive nature, drawing mandalas is calming and helps focus the mind.
Colouring in the finished mandala is also relaxing as the outlines serve as boundaries or frameworks within which the colouring can be done.
2. Draw or paint your emotions
Ask all members of your family to draw or paint how they’re feeling at that moment, then get them to talk about what they’ve painted.
Talking about feelings in a family setting isn’t always easy and this is an excellent exercise to build trust in each other.
It’s important that there’s no right and wrong and that adults reassure children their feelings are heard and valid, no matter what they are.
3. Draw outside
Take art materials into the garden, pick a flower or find a feather, leaf or insect, and then talk about what you found and why you chose it. Then, everyone should draw or paint their object. This is a great way to encourage dialogue and to spend time outdoors.
4. Make clay handprints
Give everyone a ball of clay, flatten it down then press your hand into the clay to create an imprint. Now compare all your prints and talk about how similar, but different and special we all are.
You could also print the paws of cats and dogs. When the prints are dry, they can be painted and exhibited together.
Making handprints is an excellent way of encouraging dialogue about how unique we all are while making them into a family artwork is visual confirmation of each family member’s valued part in the family.
5. Do a group painting
Use a large sheet of paper and arrange the family members equally around it and ask each member to start painting where they are and to work towards the middle until all paintings meet in the centre.
When completed, ask members to describe what it was like for them to work together, what feelings they experienced and what they think of the finished artwork.
- Do Grannies Have Green Fingers is published by Artfox.Bookwolf on June 11, priced £7.99.