Now that summer is here, many parents are hearing from their children that they are bored or are noticing them spending too much free time with electronic devices. One way around the over-dependence on electronics is to stock some supply bins with art supplies (or put out the bin you already have for school supplies with markers, colored pencils, etc.) in a creative corner. To get kids started, make it something they do with a parent, babysitter or with a cooperative friend during a playdate.
Psychotherapists sometimes use art therapy to encourage clients to identify and develop new ways of coping with difficult emotions such as loneliness, grief, or anger. Parents can use similar tools as a way of encouraging their children to improve their understanding of emotions. A key difference here is that parents can allow their children some structure and choices of projects and let their interests lead the way: “Would you rather make a card for grandma about how you felt when you went to her house or paint a set of rocks with positive sayings?” Feelings or “think positive rocks” can be accents to your garden or given to friends or family and say phrases such as BE KIND, YES YOU CAN, or BREATHE DEEP.
Here are some other ideas for projects based on the age range of 5 to 18: 1) Help the child make a visual journal. If they have a parent who lives apart from them this can be a tool to help them keep in touch, by color copying some pages and having each one mail pages with photos, ticket stubs, poems, phrases from fortune cookies, etc. ; 2) Gather a variety of old magazines (some doctor’s offices will give a set or get from resale shops) or photocopy photos to use in collages. Pick a theme such as “Summer Goals,” “Being Confident,” or “Making Healthy Choices.” Then you show the child one you made. You can also google vision board for ideas. Set up a way to paste these on poster or make a journal page; and/or, 3) Go to craft or Dollar Store and pick a project such as mask or birdhouse to paint. Then ask the child questions such as, “Do you feel like you have to put on a mask for certain kids to like you? Why or why not?” “What makes a house feel like a home? What would make the house more interesting for a bird?”
If you have any questions about how art can be used as part of your child’s blossoming process over summer break, give Dunham Counseling a call today at (630) 799-0100.
By Krista Sherinian, LCSW