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How art therapy can help children cope during a pandemic

How art therapy can help children cope during a pandemic


How art therapy can help children cope during a pandemic

Special educators explain how engaging young children in Art can help them become emotionally stronger

Can colours soothe a child’s senses? Amid a pandemic, when increased screen time and a messed up routine are making parents anxious, special educators stress on the importance of engaging children in Art. “Fluidity of colours helps emotions to flow along,” says Jinisha Pritesh Chheda, a Mumbai-based special educator and trained Waldorf teacher.Jinisha, with her sister Kejal Dhaval Bakshi, started an online learning platform called Aavid in June last year that curates modular courses and workshops focusing on special education, parenting, life skills coaching and other teaching strategies against the backdrop of the pandemic. The platform facilitates the meeting of parents, teachers and therapists, to share their personal experiences of working with children across various age groups.Recently, in a series of workshops Aavid conducted on raising children amid the pandemic, it highlighted the role Art plays in developing emotionally stronger children. According to Jinisha and Kejal, the Art that children create can give a glimpse into how they are processing their current reality — one that is spent cooped up at home, away from friends and school.How to make a child get used to the new normal:1. Telling children stories of hope, warmth, healing stories to narrate the outside anxiety and fears or sudden unpleasant news help a lot.2. Explaining to them about the masks, new rules, new normal through stories of animals can also help.3. Age-appropriateness in communication and handling the behaviour. Handling the temper tantrums of the child in a positive manner by talking, communicating and reacting in age-appropriate way.The best way to paint freeAavid recommends the wet-on-wet method of painting, adopted by most Waldorf schools across the globe. “In this method, the use of watercolours gives scope for fluid mixing and movement on paper. Colours bleed on to each other, they move, grow, spread and seem to have a life of their own. Because young children are so connected with their environment, they soak energy and feelings from the colours around them,” says Kejal, a special educator based in Chennai. This allows children to feel the effects of each colour’s quality such as warmth or coolness, on themselves. Watercolours are not limited by exactness in form, shape or outline, so many children feel free to create and experiment.The method involves dipping a thick paper (120 GSM range) in a bucket of water and pinning it to the art board. Then, give the child diluted water colours and a brush to paint on the wet paper. “The colours flows like our emotions and give way to create a ‘colour story’. Art comes from heart and so it helps the child to express their emotions — fear, sadness, anxiety, anger — all working actively in subconscious mind,” says Jinisha. Children associate each colour with a strong positive or negative feeling, based on their experiences, which adds significance to their paintings. Jinisha believes that while bringing them out on paper, the child lets go of the emotions held inside for a long time. Aavid’s workshop was done specifically for parents. According to Jinisha, once a parent is trained, the learning process for a child becomes continuous, and not limited to just a class.The workshop also dealt with measures a parent can take to prepare children for the new normal. A child’s greatest strength is imitation. “To prepare the child for new normal, parents have to first take care of themselves. Their emotional and mental health should be well balanced. They can meditate, paint, exercise, talk to counsellors, and join self-care groups,” says Jinisha.(Aavid conducts periodical online workshops for parents. For more details, contact 9820807251 or 8939391708)

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