Hey all, I hope you're enjoying this spring weather. Springtime is a great time to talk about art, isn't it?
Often times when I use art as a medium of creative expression with my young clients in the therapy room, I come across remarks like, “I am not an artist… I am not good at art…”
Feelings of insecurity and lack of confidence are some common concerns that show up during this process. When asked to express what is going on with them internally, through a medium that is distinct from verbal or written expression, some children may be hesitant to try or might even get frustrated with their resulting art piece.
In using art, my intention is to observe and follow the process of creation, not the quality of the final product. However, this struggle is real. I get it!
Building creative self-expression through art can be a very powerful tool in re-framing the negative narratives of doubt and insecurity, among children. You may notice, that the process of art parallels other parts of a child’s life. When feelings of doubt, self-criticism, and anxiety show up as part of artistic creations, it is valuable to explore the resulting effects of these feelings in other situations for the child, as well.
So, how can we engage children in a process that actively supports them in building their natural self-expression, their own voice and a sense of confidence?
Here are a few ways to try ~
1. Focus on the Creative Process. As a society, we are accustomed to believe that only certain people can be “artists”. Let’s alter this belief for our children. All of us have the capacity and the ability to be creative in our own ways. Encourage your child to use art, any medium - paint, crayons, paper mache, magazine collages, twigs, dried leaves, rocks, etc. to express their feelings and emotions openly, not worrying about what the final product looks like.
2. Create an Image for the Inner Critic. We all have this tiny little voice in our heads, better know as the inner critic. Support your child in becoming aware of their critic. Ask them to explore the feelings that the critic creates, particularly those of insecurity and doubt. Then let them imagine what this critic might look like. Ask them to draw, paint, or scribble on paper the imaginary characteristics of the critic. As a parallel process, encourage the child to look at other areas in their life where the critic comes up for them and brings them down.
3. Start Small. Work with your child by unraveling the belief of “I am not a creative person” or “I cannot be an artist”. Explore, the origin of this belief with them. Where did they pick up this message? In school? Among family members? Do they feel something can only be creative, when it is beautifully drawn or painted? After this exploration, encourage them to start creating something small. For example, a scribble on a post-it note, just a few lines on a piece of paper, or some concentric circles on an index card.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. – I hope you enjoy supporting your children in building self-expression and confidence through their own ways of creative learning. For more insights about the nature of the creative process, look out for my next blog. Until then, enjoy the sunshine!