Trauma and Mental Health Art Therapy
Young children are constantly growing. Not only are they developing physically, but they are growing mentally too. Rapid cognitive development in children occurs around the age of 2 to 5 years old. The formation of cognitive processes during childhood, such as long-term memory and critical thinking, are essential during the transition into adolescence.
Unfortunately, over the past few years, mental health disorders have risen in the United States. According to the CDC, a staggering 1 out of 7 U.S. children aged 2 to 8 has a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. Mental trauma, generally, can be described as a serious change in the way children learn, behave, or handle their emotions.
It is not always easy to notice if a child has a serious problem. Everyday stressors can slowly change a child’s behavior. Some warning signs that might signal a serious problem include:
- Problems in more than one setting (at school, at home, with peers)
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Social withdrawal or fear of things they were previous not afraid of
- Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Signs of being upset, such as sadness or tearfulness
- Often feels anxious or worried
- Repeated thoughts of negative emotions
Once mental illness develops, it becomes a regular part of your child’s behavior. Thankfully, there are ways to improve their behavior. Art, for example, can help relieve stress or convey suppressed emotions by actively engaging children in expressive creativity.
Art Therapy Encourages Creative Thinking
Arts and craft hobbies have proven to focus the brain, lower stress levels, and leave the brain with a calming sense of clarity. When creating art, people enter a meditative state. Sometimes it is relaxing to let the world fade into the background and just concentrate on one thing.
Young children are often overwhelmed with learning new things. As a toddler, curiosity takes over and everything seems interesting and captivating. The psychological distress formed from the abundance of stimuli becomes frightening or daunting to children; leading to an increased risk of developing a mental health disorder. Art therapy alleviates distress by fostering the development of a sense of identity and promotes essential elements in maturation.
Many young children express themselves more naturally and voluntarily through actions rather than through words. Therefore, interacting with art effectively becomes a method of exploring the world for a child and art serves as a refuge from intense emotions. Medical professionals are beginning to recognize the role that creative arts play in the healing process; increasingly, arts in medicine programs are emerging throughout the United States and worldwide.
Children often find themselves lost or stressed because of routine responsibilities. Art creates an outlet and release from emotional traumas caused by our demanding reality. We need to take breaks to disengage — a moment to just create and have fun. Children should step away from societal pressures and enjoy limitless creativity. Following the same mindset, Roy Lichtenstein states,
“I like to pretend that my art has nothing to do with me.”