Encouraging self-expression in your child
Self-expression is a commonly overlooked aspect of a healthy life. Just as food nourishes our bodies and sleep helps us function, self-expression enables us to authentically and uniquely interact with the world around us. The way we communicate, learn, dress and respond to situations is what defines us as a person, and allows us to become balanced and independent individuals. In the same way that we need to exercise our bodies, it is important that we spend time focusing on our minds, acknowledging the passions and traits that are inherent to us.
While it can be easy as an adult to understand the significance of personal development, the messages being fed to our children are not quite as forgiving. In the digital and informational age we live in, our kids are constantly being flooded with different ideas, pressures and norms that tell them how to act, dress and behave. Rather than spending time figuring out who they are as an individual, they are pressured to find ways to conform, so as not to stand out. Amongst all the noise and informational clutter, it can be hard for a child to differentiate between what is authentically them, and what is a norm they have been fed by those around them.
Given this wide-spread culture of conformity, it is no surprise that depression rates amongst teens and children have risen drastically over the past decade. In Australia, one in 35 people have personally experienced depression before the age of 17. Low self-esteem and general unhappiness can stunt their emotional and personal development, impacting them well into their adult lives and preventing them from reaching their full unique potential.
It’s important that we teach kids from an early age that it’s ok to be different and that there are no wrong answers in determining who you are as a person. Encouraging self-expression helps them navigate the murky waters of childhood and gives them the tools they need to develop and thrive as an individual.
The good news is that encouraging self-expression in your child doesn’t have to be a chore. Whether it be through art, dancing, solving puzzles or writing, most children will be thrilled to exercise their creative mind. They are natural innovators, with wildly powerful imaginations, so let them do the tricky part and decide for themselves what they would like to do. There is no rule book, nor is there a cookie-cutter way to explore self-expression, so let them take the lead see where it takes you (you’ll likely be surprised!). Ask more questions, listen more closely, engage with them, be patient with them, learn from them. Being able to express yourself isn’t a skill that needs to be taught: when we are given the space and autonomy to be ourselves, self-expression comes freely and naturally. And remember: self-expression is important for all of us, regardless of our age. Take the time to delve into your own creative mind and develop your personal sense of self. Don’t be afraid to be pro-active and set an example… they’ll thank you for it.
Our Dolphiner program is designed to help children on a holistic level. The program uses the sensory experiences of Art Therapy to empower children in making their own mindful decisions. Click here to find out more and enrol your child.