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The Creativity Queen

Art Therapy and Emotional Management for Children

If you are a parent then you have faced the challenge of helping your child find ways to manage those big feelings that at times seem to over take them. Those feelings of frustration, anger, or sadness that appear to storm out of nowhere and take over your calm rational child. Often parents are bewildered by the behaviors attached to these feelings such as tantrums, yelling, crying, refusal, inflexibility, shutting down, or hitting. Many calm rational parents, who have read the latest parenting books, still struggle with helping their children through the maze of these intense feelings and out of control behaviors. What may be lacking in traditional parenting methods is a way to teach your children emotional management skills that speak to them in their own natural language. Creative thinking offers a way to do just that.

Children who are unable to regulate strong emotions experience “melt-downs”. Brain research suggests that “emotional hijacking” occurs when there is a flooding of electro-chemicals in the brain. Children who experience a stressful situation may become emotion
ally escalated due to the amygdala being flooded by peptides and hormones. However, neuroscience suggests that by using your cortex, the analytical part of your brain, you can self-regulate strong emotions. When a child is in a learning environment that elicits strong negative emotions this can impact their ability to hear or comprehend what is being taught. The inability to regulate emotions may lead to social isolation, poor academic outcomes, and low self-esteem. However, there is a link between positive affective states and cognitive performance. Thereby, suggesting a relationship between positive affect, higher productivity, creative problem solving, memory, and logic. It is also suggested that increases in dopamine released by positive affect promotes creative problem solving. Moreover, the research on multiple intelligences offers some insight into the different ways a child learns and why some children learn through trying things out by doing a hands-on project.

So what does that mean to the parent who just wa
nts to help their child learn how to manage the big overwhelming feelings and out of control behaviors? It means that doing a creative and pleasurable activity may enhance a child’s learning. It also means that if a child is involved in a positive learning experience that is related to the way they process information, they may be able to learn and retain this information more readily. Five easy tips to help your child use their creativity for emotional management:
1. Use clay, or crayons, markers, and paper to create a character from their imagination to help them stop and think before they act. 2. Use clay to express their frustration and then create a new way to solve the problem they are encountering.
3. Come
up with a creative plan to stop their sibling from bugging them using markers to draw out their choices. 4. Children in a creative problem-solving group can create modeling clay figures to help them negotiate relationships and find ways to build social skills.
5. Take a creative break! When you notice your child becoming agitated and they are unable to talk through the problem have them take a break in their relaxation corner and use markers and crayons to express what they are feeling.

These creative exercises help children to “strengthen” their problem-solving muscles. In other words, they are building up their prefrontal cortex and when they are becoming emotionally charged they can use their creative thinking to get back in control. Creative thinking offers a way for your child to become in control of their emotions, not their emotions controlling them, and isn’t that what every parent wants?

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