Taking care of a child’s physical and emotional health is the responsibility of parents, caregivers and educators. In the early stages of development, a child is especially vulnerable, so neglectful treatment, an uncomfortable environment or failure to help him or her cope can strongly affect his or her personality, leaving a deep imprint.
Emotional cognition for the child is necessary, but it must be carefully monitored and the moments when emotions become a traumatic factor must be identified. The task of the adult is to support, explain, and help the child deal with them. Sometimes it is as hard as searching for the most profitable betting odds, and then it’s necessary to turn to soft psychotherapy methods.
Examples of these methods are art therapy and body-oriented therapy. Art therapy helps conduct psychodiagnostics and psychological correction in an atmosphere comfortable for the child. While body-oriented therapy helps the child cope with internal psychological problems through work with the body. These methods are gentle because they allow the child to open up in a safe way, unlike classical therapy where verbal expression of feelings is required.
The art therapy toolkit includes drawing, modeling, music, dance, storytelling, singing and other types of art. Such activities evoke only positive emotions in children and are perceived as an interesting game. Through art, the child learns to express himself or herself and open up to his or her emotions.
The therapist acts as an observer and moderator of the session; he or she can also sometimes ask leading questions and discuss arising problems. The main thing is to do it gently so that the child feels safe.
It’s possible to apply art therapy in work with children in various cases. It helps overcome stress, children’s fears and phobias. It also develops creative thinking and opens up the child’s creative energy.
To start conducting art therapy sessions with a child, you need to choose the medium. This is where the child’s desire is really the law. Since the most important thing in art therapy is the child’s comfort and enjoyment, let the child choose what he or she will do. Let’s look at the most popular and accessible methods.
The most popular method of art therapy and at the same time children’s favorite activity is drawing. A child can use any materials that he or she finds pleasant: pencils, gouache, pastels, crayons and more. There are many techniques, too. For example, it’s possible to draw in an abstract manner or on glass, when hands glide along the surface. Or even just your hands! Tell your child about the different techniques, so he or she can choose what he or she likes best.
Children love spending time in the sandbox. It develops their creativity, thinking and fine motor skills. And as art therapy, playing with sand calms and sets the child’s psyche in a state of flow. Occupation in the sandbox can be done individually or in a group – both formats have their advantages. Group play, for example, promotes communication and trust in the child.
Dancing allows the child to loosen up, to let their mind take flight. It is better to dance together with the child to help him or her overcome initial shyness. Support him, let him come up with different movements and choose the music. After all, the most important thing is for the child to enjoy dancing.
Music therapy can be active and passive. In passive therapy, the child listens to music to correct an emotional or physical condition. Active therapy means including the child in the process – he or she can sing, participate in a choir or play an instrument. Playing music together also strengthens the relationship between child and parent.
Collages are usually made by older children, but it works for younger children, too. All you need is glue, magazine clippings, and stickers. This technique is suitable for children who don’t like to draw, as here the child only puts the different clippings into a single puzzle.
Body-oriented therapy helps to achieve relaxation, reduce anxiety and get rid of fears by working with the body. It can also promote acceptance of oneself and one’s body, increasing confidence and self-esteem.
It has long been proven that the psyche is inextricably linked to the body. And even with the help of breathing exercises, it’s possible to adjust your emotional state in a short time. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that in therapy for children, body-oriented methods are just as effective.
There are many exercises and activities that can be done independently and with a specialist. Let’s talk about some of them.
One rule is that when the parents say “soldier,” the child should stretch out and tense up. When they say “rag doll,” the child relaxes his arms, legs, and neck. Stand in each position for several minutes, and during this time parents support and praise the child for good stamina and effort. This exercise is relaxing, promotes self-control, evokes positive emotions, and develops bodily and emotional awareness.
The child should sit on the floor, curled up in a ball, imitating a seed that has just been planted in the ground. Parents play the role of gardeners who water this seed, admire and enjoy it. The child gradually begins to open up and rise, as if he/she were a flower. You should agree right away that the child performs the role of a flower as best he or she can, i.e. stretches the neck toward the sun, opens his or her arms, straightens the back. This exercise increases self-confidence and also brings the child closer to his or her loved ones.
Hugs and kisses are the best expression of love through the body. They are not an exercise or a game, but can also be considered part of body-oriented therapy, as hugs can easily be used to improve a child’s emotional state. Hugs and kisses help to strengthen the relationship between child and parents.