Strokes of brushes lying scattered, petri dishes filled with unused colors and little smudges of color decorating, [or is it spoiling ?] your walls. Well, if you have a small budding artist, then the above-mentioned scenario might not be a new one for you.
Children love to create artwork. Though, at times their work might not make much sense to adults, the fact remains that children find art an amusing little hobby. But why are children attracted to art. What effect does it have in their life?
For many young minds, art remains a medium to express their deep buried feelings. Many children use art to articulate their sub-conscious thoughts. Not many adults are interested in knowing what is going in young minds, hence, children use art to let the world know about their feelings.
Art also has a sedating effect on young minds. Take for instance war. Today the world is witnessing sectarian, racial and religious strife. Children are the most vulnerable victims of these wars. Many of them experience horrors that cannot be put in words. Often, these horrors remain buried inside, and continue to haunt children in their adulthood as well. Art makes sure that these pent-up feelings find a way to come out. A report that appeared in PBS, a non–profit media enterprise, states the healing effects of art on children in the war-torn region of Darfur. According to the report, when the children were presented with crayons and paper, they came up with drawings that summed up the horrors of the war. The report also states how Dr. Annie Sparrow, one of the pediatric at the refugee camps , feels that the picture , “ has all the integrity of literally expressing what is inside their head, that it’s their own visual vocabulary of war”. She also states, “For the children of Darfur, creating the drawings has a therapeutic effect. For the rest of us, the works offer a window into their troubled world.”
John Toth in his essay titled ‘Traveling through Arts’ offers more insights on this subject. According to him, art helps children to ‘reconnect with their own experience’ he also states that ‘these questions further learning by linking cognition with affect, drawing upon prior experience, verbal, kinesthetic, auditory and other sense memories.’ Toth also makes a mention of how art helps children to voice their own opinions and appreciation as well as developing the patience to listen to others’ perspective.
Art often helps children to regain their emotional balance. Artwork, often, helps children to paint a picture of their immediate surroundings. Art therapists believe this helps them to reconcile with their troubled present and addresses their emotional anxieties. A report from earthtimes.org states how Los Angeles students regained their emotional balance after becoming traumatized by gang violence. The rescuer was none other than art therapy. The report states that by using as art therapy, Suzanne Silverstein, a registered art therapist, hopes to break the vicious cycle of violence and backlash. According to her, art provides children with a healthier form of expressing their opinion and hence can prevent children from stinking back with violent acts, in case, they are traumatized by gang violence.
Studies have also shown that involving children in artwork helps them to increase attention span. It is often observed that abused children have lower attention span. Art forces them to concentrate and this addresses the issue of attention span.
Art can, thus, have a positive effect on children.