People are hard-wired to express themselves.

Self-expression is one of their defining features differentiating them from other living creatures. The ability to show and tell what they’re feeling, their thoughts, and ideas, whether it be through making music or the arts, makes people articulate their emotions well. Among the ages, children are especially prone to express themselves freely because they aren’t yet disciplined enough, nor have they been taught how to suppress their emotions. They are at a phase of complete liberty to express whatever they feel however they want.

Art as an avenue for self-expression

While this freedom can be liberating for children, having the wrong means to express their emotions can be detrimental for themselves and those around them. For instance, some children may respond to anger through criticism, sarcasm, or physical aggression, which is harmful to their relationships. Sometimes, children can express sadness through extreme discouragement; others result in isolation.

However, emotions can sometimes be too much, and children may find it challenging to express what they’re feeling. Stating or even screaming can’t suffice, and this is where art comes in.

Art has consistently been recognized as an excellent means of conveying thoughts, ideas, and feelings. There are various ways of expressing oneself through it, such as painting, photography, or dance. Self-expression becomes limitless with art. Lines or colors can represent emotions in a way body movement conveys them in dancing and how details symbolize them in photography. These methods are unique and dependent from person to person. Adults have long applied this method of expression, but some children may have yet to acknowledge or learn about the benefits and usage of art for self-expression.

Art becomes a healthy outlet for children to experiment with self-expression without the possibility of harming themselves or others. They can explore various methods and directions of communicating different emotions and practice what works best with them.

For instance, child author Natalia Padilla chose the field of writing and painting to express herself more. She has written and published a book entitled Good Night and painted under her Natalia’s Painting collection to encourage other children to follow the same path as her. Art as an avenue for self-expression encourages children to:

Embrace mistakes

People hesitate to do anything new due to fear of failure clouding their minds even before they give things a try. Children have yet to discover this concept at a young age, which is why it’s fundamental to provide activities that boost their self-confidence earlier on. Art is a great way to instill this concept in children. With art, they don’t commit mistakes and aren’t bound by rules. Because of this, they get motivated to explore different means of self-expression. The way art has no judgment or limitations likewise gives them a sense of validation – that whatever they’re feeling is acceptable. Embracing mistakes also teaches children to take risks, thus learn better. After all, failure is the best teacher.

Embrace spontaneity 

Spontaneity is hugely liberating. Art as a process rarely relies on planning. Instead, it mainly relies on feeling and going along with it. This spontaneity in the art can influence children’s behavior outside crafting, allowing them to be more welcoming and accepting of new people and experiences. Spontaneity also allows them to develop the ability to analyze and look at problems from different perspectives to solve them.

What happens when people suppress emotions

People have been repeatedly reminded how expressing or letting emotions out is essential, so they have been looking for different manners to convey them. But why is it essential to do so? What happens when people do otherwise?

Bottling emotions up can lead to short and long-term consequences to both the mind and body. In fact, according to psychologist Victoria Tarratt, “Suppressing emotions can lead to physical stress. It can influence one’s blood pressure, memory, and self-esteem.” This is precisely why people must learn to avoid such consequences, especially from an earlier time.