By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC, MHC-LP www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com
Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults
When I considered what kind of parent I wanted to be, I looked at my parents as an example. There were certain family traditions I wanted to continue and others I was fine with leaving in the past. Family dinners are one example of a tradition I wanted to keep and while my family dinners as a child looked very different from how they look today with my children, my husband and I still make it a priority. One of my fondest memories as a child was baking with my mom. While I tried to pass this tradition on to my kids, it turned out that they were more interested in eating than baking! As they grew, new traditions emerged, like post-dinner outings and shared movie nights. Traditions, though steadfast, often transform over time, signaling the importance of embracing change.
Family values on the other hand, are engraved in our foundation. My unwavering commitment as a parent is to nurture the best in each of my children. This endeavor involves exploring their unique interests, talents, and skills, while imparting the notion that every child possesses distinct strengths.
The challenge lies in affirming that each child's skillset holds equal value, even in a world that sometimes prioritizes certain achievements over others. In a society where athletic triumphs often overshadow accomplishments in the arts, it's crucial for parents to support diverse talents..
Cultivating Inner Fulfillment:
Guiding children to find self-worth beyond external validation is paramount. I encourage them to seek fulfillment within themselves, rather than seeking approval from others. Accomplishments may occasionally go unnoticed by the world, yet the intrinsic joy, pride, and happiness are ever-present. Acknowledging these emotions, even in moments of solitude, is vital. Though transient, such feelings are not to be underestimated. They warrant celebration, even if you're the sole reveler in that moment.
A person's sense of self isn't hinged on social media metrics or external praise. Instead, it's nurtured through self-belief, goal-setting, and embracing their unique potential.
Through the journey of parenting, I've learned that flexibility is key. Adapting my parenting style to cater to my children's ever-changing needs has become a guiding principle. Amid the evolving methods, my core self remains, consistently asking those introspective questions: Am I parenting well enough? Am I content with my efforts? The path is demanding, prompting me to turn to Mindfulness and Art Therapy for tranquility and self-compassion.
Art Therapy Activity: Create a Self-Symbol to Cultivate Self-Appreciation
Embrace the healing power of Art Therapy with a "Self-Symbol" exercise aimed to foster self-love and self-compassion. Download the Self-Symbol worksheet and explore your strengths in a creative and meaningful manner.
Access the printable worksheet for the Self-Symbol Art Therapy activity by clicking here.
Gather materials: scissors, a blank sheet of paper, glue/tape, markers, crayons, colored pencils, and other art media.
Write words within the shapes that reflect your unique qualities, the compliments you have received, and the words a supportive family member might use to describe you.
Cut out the shapes and arrange them on a new sheet of paper to create a design. Secure them with glue/tape.
Use your markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolors and any other media (magazine cut-outs, feathers, ribbons) to design your Self-Symbol.
Use your Self-Symbol as a reminder of the qualities that make you uniquely you.
Mindful Activity: 3-Minute Mind & Body Scan
Take 3 minutes, 3 times a day, to close your eyes and check in. Body scans increase awareness of our feelings, emotions, and our physical body. The outcome is inner-calmness and an increase in perspective.
Position Your Body
Begin by bringing your attention to the position that your body is in, place your hands gently on your lap and have your feet flat on the ground. Close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you. Notice your body seated wherever you’re seated, feeling the weight of your body on the chair, or on the floor.
Take a few deep breaths; in through your nose and out through your mouth. And as you take a deep breath, focus on how the breath is enlivening the body. And as you exhale, feel your body relax deeper.
Focus on Your Body From Your Feet to Your Head
Notice your feet on the floor and notice the sensations of your feet touching the floor; the weight, pressure, vibration, and heat.
Feel your legs against the chair; feel the pressure, heaviness, and lightness.
Notice your back against the chair.
Bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, take a breath to expand your stomach and then let it soften as you exhale.
Notice your hands. Tighten your hands for a moment and then release to feel them soften.
Notice your arms. Feel any sensation in your arms.
Lift your shoulders by your ears and then release them to feel them soften. Breathe.
Notice your neck. Feel the air from your breath flow through the back of your throat.
Unclench your jaw; let your face and facial muscles melt.
Take a moment to imagine yourself looking at your body as you are relaxing in this moment. Take one more breath. And then when you’re ready, make circled with your hands and feet, open your eyes, and smile.
For more therapeutic activities and resources on how to incorporate Art Therapy into your life, read more from Lynn's Creative Expressions Blog.
Learn more about Art Therapy and Lynn Cukaj, Board Certified Art Therapist here: www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com