Through the arts, children learn coping skills, how to invent and how to express their unique character.
Ever notice how young children take up drawing, singing and dancing so spontaneously? That’s because they’re born explorers, on a quest to make sense of the world. And because there’s nothing quite as satisfying for a child than to express themselves freely and without judgment.
When creating art children investigate their own minds and environment to declare what they’ve found and how they feel about it. It’s fun and fulfilling. It’s also foundational to emotional and mental development.
Creativity sparks growth and self-discovery
Creativity sparks mental growth by presenting opportunities to try out new ideas, form their own opinions and solve problems. That’s why it’s important not to rush children through creative experiences or tell them “the right way” to do them. Give them time and space to think through their creation at their own pace.
To adults, it may look like a simple task. But to children, it’s a project of outward and inward discovery. In deciding what to draw, shape or glue, in making up a song to belt out in the backseat or how to boogie across the kitchen floor, your child is figuring out who they are. Out of creative self-expression shines a unique character.
This week’s CHoR challenges focus on creative self-expression
There are limitless ways to create and no doubt your child has already found a lot! Here are a few more ideas for bringing out your child’s creative expression.
Challenge: Let loose your inner dance animal
Children love animals! Combine that love with art and exercise by suggesting that they pretend to be a monkey, tiger, horse or dragon, moving and sounding like their animals, then drawing them. To liven things up, turn on an upbeat song and ask your child to show you how the animals would dance to it. Every 15 or 30 seconds, call out the name of a new animal. Then give your child the chance to lead, calling out animals for you to mimic. For even more fun, “sing” along as each of the animals.
If you have tweens or teens, challenge them to choreograph their own dance to a favorite song—then ask them to teach it to you. Visit this page if you’d like to know how much exercise your child should be getting.
Challenge: Draw emotions for stress relief
Drawing their feelings allows children to express something for which they may not yet have the language skills. It can help them process their emotions, gain a sense of control and build longer-term resilience to stress.
Encourage your child to complete the draw-your-feelings activity on page 4 of our kid-friendly coloring book available for download. Developed with insights from our experts in child psychiatry, infectious diseases and child life, the coloring book is a creative, interactive way to educate your children about COVID-19 while also helping them with worries they may have related to the pandemic. (No printer? Check out page 4 online and complete the activity on a sheet of paper, empty box or with sidewalk chalk. )
Challenge: Get inspired by iconic architecture—and draw it
Architecture tells us a lot about people, culture and the times in which buildings are constructed. In this activity, challenge your child to choose the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Egypt or one of these other famous buildings and learn about why it was built and by whom. Then put pencil to paper or chalk to sidewalk to create their own version of it. Can your child design and build a model of their own dream home with cardboard and glue?
Benefits beyond fun
“Children are naturally curious and seem to have an inherent desire to explore their environment. Even small curiosities can lead to big opportunities for learning and development of problem solving skills, learning to cope with and express feelings, and exploring relationship with self and others. Childhood is a time when spontaneous creativity takes place through music, art, dance, storytelling and imaginative play. As a board-certified music therapist, I’ve seen firsthand how important the arts are to safely exploring the big emotions that come with being a child and navigating this big world we live in. It’s important to allow children to observe and explore the sights and sounds in nature and in the environment, use their voices to express themselves through singing, and engaging in unstructured creative expression. When children are encouraged to use their imagination, the benefits extend far beyond fun, including the development of cognitive, social and emotional skills, making creative expression vital to growing into a well-rounded adult.” –Melissa Owens, MT-BC, NMT, board-certified music therapist at CHoR
Art builds resilience
Home isolation takes a toll, frustrating children and adults alike who may feel powerless in these circumstances. Participating in the arts counters those feelings by reducing stress and building resilience for all ages. So, parents, join your children in these creative activities or find other outlets: journaling, model-building, knitting, woodworking. All can help you relax and regain a sense of control. For more support on helping your family thrive no matter what, check out our COVID-19 blog articles for families.
Did you miss out on previous weeks of CHoR Challenges? Check out more #CHoR Challenge activities for kids in quarantine.