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  • Writer's pictureLynn Cukaj

Attitudes Towards Sports vs. Other Hobbies & How to Foster Self-Worth

By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC, MHC-LP

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! When the kids got older, we created new traditions, like going out to dinner and enjoying a movie afterward. While traditions are important, they can change throughout the years and it is therefore sensible to know when it’s time to let go of the ones that no longer work for you and your family.

Family values on the other hand, are engraved in our foundation. One of my non-negotiables as a parent is to do whatever I can do to bring out the best in my children. I do this by exploring their different interests, skillsets, and talents.

Imparting the belief that each child has a skillset and that one is not better than the other has been the biggest challenge. If you have a child that excels in a sport, their accomplishments may be highlighted in the greater community, as high school athletics are often publicized and celebrated more than music, art, or theater. This can pose a challenge for a parent when their other child has talents or hobbies outside of sports.

When a child demonstrates dedication and commitment towards achieving a goal, and when that goal is reached, the child will often look to others for acceptance. But what happens when no one is paying attention? I teach my children and students to not look outwards for praise and rewards, but to look inwards. After achieving or succeeding at something, there is always a feeling of elation. Sometimes this feeling lasts for days while other times it is momentary. Oftentimes when it is momentary, it is because nobody else noticed - and that is OK! What is most important is that feeling of inner happiness, pride, and joy. Although the feeling may be temporary, it must not be ignored. Rather, it should be celebrated; even if you are the only one celebrating this accomplishment.

A person’s sense of worth and self-efficacy is not dependent upon how many likes they get on social media or how many pats on the back they receive, but instead it is built upon the individual’s ability to dream, set goals, and believe in themselves.

The longer I am a parent, the more I learn that it is less about me and more about meeting the needs of my children in each developmental stage. All stages require a different parenting style but the same me is always there. At the end of the day, I am still human, asking myself those hard questions: I am a good enough parent? Am I OK with that? Parenting is never easy, which is why I often turn to Mindfulness and Art Therapy for moments of inner peace and self-compassion.

Art Therapy Activity: Create a Self-Symbol

A Self-Symbol is an Art Therapy instrument that supports our journey towards self-love and self-compassion. You can do this on your own or with your child to help them feel positive about their strengths and unique abilities. Click below to download the Self-Symbol worksheet.

Self-Symbol Worksheet - Creative Expressions Consulting - Art Therapy by Lynn Cukaj, ATR-B
Download • 488KB

For this activity, download and print the Self-Symbol Art Therapy worksheet above.

You will need the following materials: Scissors, a blank sheet of paper (any kind of paper), and glue (or tape). You may use markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolors and other media (magazines, ribbons, feathers, tissue paper, wrapping paper, buttons) to design your Self-Symbol.


Step 1: Close your eyes and take a moment to think about the characteristics that you like about yourself. Write these words within the shapes provided in the worksheet. You can choose any shape.

Step 2: Think about words that others have used when giving you a compliment. Write these words within the shapes provided in the worksheet.

Step 3: Think about what a loving family member would say about you. Write these words within the remaining shapes provided in the worksheet.

(Part 2):

Step 1: Cut out each shape that contains a word.

Step 2: Create a design with the shapes on a new sheet of paper. Tape or glue the shapes to secure them on the new sheet of paper.

Step 3: 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:

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