Ok, so art might not cure your child’s anxiety, but doing art has been proven a successful antidote. And since all our kids have had to adapt to some big changes in their lives in the last year and a half, it’s time to load up on whatever is going to help them.
Anxiety is the feeling that something bad is about to happen and you can’t do anything to stop it or change it. As it begins to take hold, symptoms of fear; fight or flight, panic, confusion and powerlessness can set in. For adults, these feeling can be debilitating. Now imagine how much more confusing and overwhelming it is for kids to feel this way. They can’t stop dad from losing his job. They don’t want grandma or grandpa to die. They wonder if they’re ever going to play with friends again. They wonder if things are going to be ok again. No matter how well you’ve shielded your kids from the things you’re worried about, they’re still feeling it.
What can we do to help our kids? Even when the world is safe and there isn’t anything to be anxious over, once those feelings have been triggered, it’s best to focus on helping your child calm his body down. This is when doing art can be hugely beneficial. Doing art, whether its drawing, painting, music or dance, pulls our attention away from the inner turmoil and gives us a constructive outlet that is both satisfying and empowering.
Here are some of the ways doing art helps kids reduce anxiety:
In an attempt to control or manage the feeling of impending doom, kids can hyper focus on what’s around them. This can be problematic and very limiting. Doing art pulls the attention away from inner worry and onto something external and much more constructive.
Kid size control
Anxiety can be overwhelming, making us feel out of control, as a result kids can be overly controlling as a way to manage and protect themselves. But when you’re a kid, there’s only so much you can control. Doing art, or another hobby they enjoy, can help kids feel in control because they are doing something they like and want.
Doing art can help kids express what they’re feeling but might have a hard time putting into words. Or it can do the opposite and distract them from their anxious thoughts, allowing their body to calm down. Don’t tell them what it’s supposed to do. Just get them drawing or making stuff and let the art do its magic.
If your child struggled with anxiety before the pandemic, and you’ve seen an increase, you may want to get them some professional help. It’s best to address mental health concerns as they happen, to lessen chances of kids carrying their worries into adulthood. Many therapists use art therapy as a way for kids or adults to express feeling they may not have words for.
Don’t know how?
We don’t want the cure for anxiety to create more anxiety, so whatever form of art your child pursues, include some instruction. Whether its drawing, piano, dance or riding a bike, kids need to learn how. As they learn and gain confidence their time doing art will grow, giving them a skill that can last a lifetime.
There are so many ways and reasons to do art. It can be a fun way to create and a light-hearted way to manage deep feelings of anxiety, all at same time. With so many rich benefits, I hope you and your kids unleash your inner artist!