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The Benefits of Art Therapy for Young Children

Unleashing the creativity of your little ones

It’s a picture-perfect afternoon.

Toddlers laying on plush carpeting, a bucket of crayons – and a few strays scattered about – in the center. Quiet banter and giggles fill the air, mixed with roars and squeals of fancy bringing the colored pages to life.

From our youngest age, we have expressed our thoughts and dreams with color on paper – and sometimes the walls!

Even as adults, we still feel ourselves being pulled back to our roots. Our grown-up colored pencils have replaced the basic eight-pack of crayons, and sophisticated pages of elegant designs replaced our youthful coloring books – and nothing takes away the stress of the day quite like it.

But when it comes down to it, what is Art Therapy really all about?

Art therapy is the means of expression through the creative process. For toddlers, that play is an important part of development or self-discovery; it is a natural part of growth and maturation for our children. Those vivacious swirls of color and silly stories to go with pictures are all building blocks for emotionally healthy toddlers that help them grow into strong and independent adults. Encouraging your child’s imagination through various mediums, such as paper and crayons, modeling clay, or even finger paints, affirms their individuality and creativity. Beginning at a young age will help your child navigate through emotional growth as they learn about their own individuality while building healthy self-esteem.

Emotions are learned and refined from imagination and ingenuity starting from an early age – and are key to helping our little ones embrace the task of learning what feelings are, and how to process and express them. From happy days to the occasional blue ones, sunshine and blue skies on the swings at their favorite park, or a rainy day where they have to play inside, art therapy draws out those emotions through creativity and expresses them in a way that they can reflect on and understand.

Kids learn self-awareness and self-assurance in their art. From play-dough sculptures that you cannot identify to energetic swirls and splashes of paint on heavy paper, the only positive feedback your little Picasso will seek is from mom and dad. The acceptance of his art form as perfect the way it is, and to see them decorating the refrigerator or dad’s office helps them build self-esteem – which will mold them to avoid pitfalls of being peer pleasers, seeking their worth in what the crowd thinks rather than from within.

Grandparents form a special bond with these little blessings, and when those visits are over, missing Nana or Pop Pop is natural for your little one. What feels like a short week-long visit to us, can seem like an eternity to your young toddler, and you can help express and deal with those new feelings of missing their grandparents by encouraging them draw a picture of their favorite person, place, or memory.

Quite simply, Art Therapy is a process in which your child discovers and expresses themselves – allowing them to flourish emotionally.

Next to little hugs and “I love you”, can there be anything better?