My daughter recently asked what my favorite subject was in school, and while English seemed the obvious answer given my love for writing, I surprised both her and my husband when I said it was art class. While I’ve never been particularly good at art, I’ve always enjoyed having a creative outlet and have fond memories of working with different art mediums throughout my teens. I found it incredibly therapeutic, and the art center of my high school became a calming place where I was able to turn off all of the noise and drama that comes along with being a hormonal teenager and work through my thoughts.
I’ve found other outlets to help keep my emotions in check over the years, like running and writing and drinking wine (LOL), but as my daughter has gotten older and taken an interest in crafts, I’ve developed an interest in art again. I love that it gives us a way to connect, and I’ve been amazed at how much more my daughter shares with me when we’re coloring, painting, weaving, and making jewelry.
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It got me thinking about art therapy for kids – a concept I was introduced to years ago while researching for a post about childhood anxiety. I knew art therapy was effective in helping kids with anxiety, depression, trauma and grief, but had no idea it could be used to boost a child’s self-esteem, improve their communication and problem-solving skills, and help with socialization.
If you’re interested in art therapy for kids, we’ve got 22 amazing ideas you can use in therapy, at school, and even at home!
What is Art Therapy?
Performed by an art therapist who is trained in both art and psychology, art therapy uses creative materials to help children explore their thoughts and feelings. Art therapy allows children to process the things that have happened to them and helps reduce stress and anxiety as they work through these challenges. By providing kids a safe place to express their negative feelings and emotions, art therapy has been shown to improve a child’s mental, emotion, and physical well-being.
RELATED: Creative Ways to Help Children Manage BIG Feelings
Art therapy goes above and beyond coloring and manipulating play-doh, and includes activities such as drawing pictures, writing stories and poems, choreographing dances, and writing and performing plays. These can occur in private therapy sessions as well as in group settings, allowing children the opportunity to work on their social communication skills.
What Are the Benefits of Art Therapy for Kids?
Art therapy for kids can be used to help a child cope with a major life event, such as a serious medical illness, the divorce of their parents, or the death of a loved one. Art therapy can also help children who struggle with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities, and has been shown to help children with behavioral issues and developmental delays like autism and ADHD.
The direct benefits of art therapy may not be immediately noticeable, but over time it can:
- Improve self-awareness
- Reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression
- Help a child deal with feelings associated with sickness, trauma, and grief
- Improve communication skills
- Boost self-esteem
- Allow children to see problems from a different point of view
- Improve problem-solving skills
22 Art Therapy Activities for Kids
Tree of Strength Art Directive | Creativity in Therapy
Body Tracing Affirmation Exercise | The Chaos and the Clutter
Feelings Journal | Teachers Pay Teachers
Worry Group Art Activity: Controlled Breathing Waves | Counselor Keri
Mandala Social Emotional Learning Activities | Teachers Pay Teachers
DIY Worry Stones | Coffee Cups and Crayons
Raising Leaders Self-Esteem Activity for Kids | A Mom’s Take
Art Therapy Healing Scars & Grief Activity | Creative Counseling 101
Positive Affirmation Bottle | Art of Social Work
Me Tree Self-Esteem Character Building Arts and Crafts Project | Kids Play and Create
Anger Management Foldable Activities | Teachers Pay Teachers
Grief Expression Play Dough Activity | Creative Social Worker
Coping Strategies Fortune Teller | Teachers Pay Teachers
What Can I Control? Visible Activity | Counselor Keri
Drawing Your Breath Mindful Art Activity | Creativity in Therapy
Inspiration Stones | Creativity in Therapy
Positive Self-Talk Flower Craft | Teachers Pay Teachers
The Gratitude Game | Counselor Keri
Make Your Own Coping Strategies Wheel | Teachers Pay Teachers
The Worry Worms | Utah Play Therapy
Remembering Ornament Grief Activity | What’s Your Grief
Postcard From Your Future Self | Creativity in Therapy
Whether you’re looking for ways to help your child cope with a significant life event, like an illness, divorce, or the loss of a loved one, or you just want some fun arts and crafts you can do with your child at home to help connect and talk with him or her, I hope this collection of art therapy for kids ideas and projects helps!