We're really glad you stopped by! If you are looking for creative parenting support and tools to help your child, we can help.
This blog is no longer active, so if you want lots of parenting tools and tips visit
visit us at www.thecreativityqueen.com

The Creativity Queen

Art Therapy and Self Concept/ Self-Esteem

Parents often come to me as an art therapist asking how they can help improve their child's self-esteem. Let's look at the root of self-esteem, self- concept, and how art therapy may help.

Self-concept is a snap shot of our perceptions of who we are, our abilities and traits. Self-concept is derived from a cognitive construct of how we feel about ourselves and what actions we take as a result. It involves self-definition, characteristics that describe and support our self-concept (p. 269). As a child matures they move from single representations, a one-dimensional perspective of themselves. At age four a child may see their behaviors and emotions as “black and white”. During this concrete stage a child believes conflicting emotions cannot exist simultaneously. At this stage a child cannot differentiate their real self, the person they are vs. their ideal self, the person they desire to be (p. 270).

As a child matures between ages 5-6 they begin to develop representational mapping, connecting images and ideas about one’s self. However, they continue to use black and white concrete thinking and cannot delineate juxtaposing thoughts (p. 270).

As a child enters into middle childhood they develop representational systems, a development of self-worth via multi-dimensional concepts that incorporate conflicting thoughts about themselves.

Self-esteem is the part of our selves that evaluates our self-concept, and helps to form judgment about our self worth. Although a child cannot articulate concepts of self-worth until middle childhood, a younger child tends to rely on adults to evaluate and support their self-worth. Again, all or nothing thinking influences a child’s self-worth. They see themselves as all good or all bad, until middle childhood (p. 272-273). A child may evaluate self-esteem based on successes and failures. This externalized evaluation of self-esteem may develop into “helplessness” pattern of self-criticism and self-blame. A child’s understanding that they can change their behaviors and thoughts can help a child develop a stronger sense of self-worth. Children whom believe their attributes are fixed may suffer from low self-esteem (p. 273).

Art therapy may be helpful in developing a child's sense of competency in other ways beyond traditional therapy. It is understood that a child needs to develop a sense of self-worth, often this is done through mastery and competency. Meaning, your child delights in learning that allows them to be challenged, yet provides them opportunities to be successful. The creative process is aligned with helping children stretch themselves learning a new challenging skill that allows them to work through their frustrations, offers challenges, and opportunities for new ways of thinking and responding, and creates an outcome or a goal they are working towards. It is the challenge of using the art materials and working to learn new ways to communicate and express one's self that leads to a sense of mastery, and consequently a greater sense of self.

Papalia, D. E., Olds, S. W., & Feldman, R. D. (2004). Human Development (9th ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill.

No comments: