Raising well-rounded and healthy children is a lot like building a house. We begin with a strong, solid foundation and work our way from the ground up. As early as one to two years old, kids begin to grasp the concept of social etiquette. We start by teaching our children expression and manners through behaviors such as waving hello and goodbye, and then work our way towards saying please and thank-you. Establishing appropriate forms of expression at a young age can help lay the foundation for children to properly communicate and express themselves during pivotal periods of developmental growth.
But self-expression isn’t solely based on manners and greetings. The idea behind self-expression in children lies in its key role in developing good mental health habits. Different forms of expression, especially through creative outlets, allows children to unwind, regroup, and bring their focus to the present moment — alleviating some of the anxiety and worries of that day. More so, creative outlets can boost self-confidence by allowing children to create something of their very own, with no limits or rules, that they can be proud of. Above all, creativity is a natural and healthy way to express any negative emotions. Sound enticing? Encourage your child to experiment with some of these ideas:
Navigating aspects of mental health such as troublesome feelings and emotions can be especially challenging for children. Coloring activities like free coloring sheets offered by Jumo Health are just one example of many tools for mental health that children can use to express how they are feeling in a rewarding manner. Those who color tend to illustrate (no pun intended) feelings of calmness, mentally clarity, happiness, and relaxation because coloring provides the power to focus the brain, similarly to meditation.
Not only does the act of coloring itself help with one’s mental state, but the actual hues of each color can affect mood too. For instance, in traditional color therapy, the color orange has shown to boost confidence and increase energy levels. It can also exude cheerful emotions with effects similar to those of an antidepressant. So before your next trip to the store, check out which specific colors can have a unique impact on mood, so you know which assortment of Crayola colors you should snag for your child.
Music is a very personal form of self-expression. If your child is passionate about making music, whether it be through songwriting or playing an instrument, creating or replicating a meaningful song is a beautiful way to express themselves with a skill that they can be proud of. Even if your child would rather be a spectator and prefers to just listen to music, finding relatability and inspiration within song lyrics can be an intimate, yet healing way for them to articulate feelings and emotions.
This can also serve as a natural outlet to bond with family and friends. Finding a musical outlet that you share in common with others, whether it be a favorite musician or favorite song, can allow for an even deeper connection. Knowing someone that relates to the same things can help us feel comfortable in our emotions when we realize we aren’t the only ones feeling them.
Sometimes, when all else fails, we can rely on words to get us by. Giving your child a journal to use freely is actually more significant than you would think when it comes to self-care. Aside from being inexpensive, journals provide children with a creative outlet to vocalize their emotional experiences without the fear of being judged. Writing down thoughts, feelings and emotions can help children make sense of what they are experiencing. An easy way to introduce journaling is to try The Five-Minute Journal which sparks hopefulness by focusing one’s attention on the positive things that are happening in their life. This book practices self-expression with quick and simple gratitude prompts that only take about five minutes to complete.
It’s human nature to feel a multitude of emotions and children are not exempt from those experiences. These thoughts and feelings can impact our children’s energy which is significant during pivotal periods of growth and development. We need to help our children express themselves honestly and creatively in order to equip them with healthy coping skills that can boost their confidence and improve their overall mental well-being.