Art Therapy: Controlling Symptoms with Creativity

Painting, drawing, and sculpting are a great hands-on treatment for a racing mind. Here's how art can help your child gain focus, calm, and confidence.

ART AT HOME

Doing art at home with a parent can calm and focus a child who has had a hard day at school, or finds it difficult to settle down. Here are a few pointers for parents:

> SET THE STAGE. Give your child boundaries when doing art projects. Taping off one section of a large piece of craft paper will sharpen a child's focus. Art trays, on which a child can place all of her materials, are useful. Trays can hold materials, such as paint, clay, and plaster.

> GOOGLE AWAY. Finding simple craft projects is as easy as searching "crafts" and "school-age children."

> KEEP IT SIMPLE AND SHORT. Start with projects that have three or fewer steps (color, cut, glue, for instance). This will increase a child's focus and the chances of his completing the project.

> HAVE KIDS GET UP AND MOVE AROUND. Movement burns excess energy and allows a child to hit the reset button when she is getting bored with a project.

> USE A TIMER. It slows down kids who have a poor sense of time, and who feel the need to rush through a project.

> START WITH MANDALAS. These pre-drawn circles on a piece of paper capture a child's attention. Having a starting point lessens a child's anxiety about what to create when facing a blank paper. Patterned mandala designs are free online.

> JUST COLOR. Coloring is a relaxing, non-threatening activity for children and adults. Remember how calming it was for you in your childhood.

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