Health Benefits of Creativity for Kids with Chronic Illnesses
A child’s creativity is an important part of their development. There is nothing more satisfying for kids than to be able to express themselves creatively. While artistic expression is beneficial for all children, it can be an invaluable tool for children of differing abilities and chronic illnesses. We may have a tendency to look at creativity as a natural occurrence, but we can find ways to encourage it in our kids. Plus, art and creativity have significant health benefits for kids!
Let’s take a look at just a few health benefits of creativity for kids and some ways to foster creative self-expression in children.
Health Benefits of Creativity for Kids: Emotional, Physical and Mental Health
Emotional Health Benefits
- Helps manage stress
- Encourages creative thinking and problem-solving
- Promotes self-expression
- Fosters self-esteem
Physical Health Benefits
- Reduces stress hormone and inflammation levels for better immune system function
- Boosts brain function
- Visual art activities promote fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination
- Performing art activities promote gross motor skills
Mental Health Benefits
- Boosts moods and increases happiness
- Helps kids focus
- Reduces anxiety, depression
- Aids in processing negative emotions and trauma
6 Ways to Foster Creativity in Your Child
When a child is diagnosed with an illness or chronic condition, our first instinct is to focus on the child’s physical health with necessary treatments and regimens to alleviate pain or symptoms. But without access to creative self-expression, a child may not have the tools they need to refine motor skills, develop problem-solving skills or create healthy emotional responses. In addition to caring for a child’s physical needs, finding ways to nurture their creativity through art and play can go a long way toward helping them cope in a difficult and stressful time. Here are a few ways to foster a child’s creativity.
1. Help Kids Find and Pursue Their Passions
Talk to your child about what they might be interested in creating or a skill they may want to learn. Forcing a particular art medium may cause frustration but when a child finds an activity or artistic practice they are truly passionate about, they will naturally enjoy participating in it and have a greater ability to express their creativity. It’s completely ok for a child to try a new activity and not be interested in it – they’re learning what they enjoy. Allow the child to explore different mediums of art and ways to express themselves creatively.
To give you a few ideas, some artistic skills that kids in CoachArt programs are interested in learning:
Music: Singing, Playing a Musical Instrument (such as guitar, piano, violin, or drums)
Dance: Ballet, Hip-Hop
Acting: Stage, On-Camera, Improvisation
Visual Arts: Painting, Drawing, Sculpting, Photography, Sewing
Media Arts: Animation, Coding
Culinary Arts: Cooking, Baking
2. Make Sure the Child Has the Tools They Need
If a child needs special accommodations or adaptive materials, here are some common supplies to help:
- Modeling clay as a gripper for pens, pencils, crayons, and paintbrushes
- Table easels
- Stabilizing materials such as tape, velcro, sticky boards, or non-skid backing
- Fishing weights or drapery weights placed on the ends of the tools
- Paintbrushes, chalk, and crayons with rounded ends for children who are most comfortable with a fist grip
- Incorporating tactile materials
You can find a list of more adaptive art materials and resources in our post 10 Easy Crafts for Kids with Motor Disabilities.
3. Allow for Creative Self-Expression
Remember that the idea is to allow kids to create and express themselves. Sometimes you may want to hover, but just know that the final result is not as important as that the child enjoys the experience of creating. By encouraging your kids to create freely, you can help build their self-confidence, independence, and self-advocacy.
4. Allow for Free Time
Children have a lot of scheduled time on their plates – from school to planned activities. When a child has a chronic condition, they may also have doctors appointments, treatments, and daily medications. While structuring activities is important to make time for planned lessons and social activities, kids naturally get creative during “free time” as well. It may also give a child a sense of relief from a highly structured routine.
5. Take a Class or Find a Group Setting
If your child wants to learn a specific skill, lessons can help them achieve their goals and learn what they’re interested in. Whether it’s a local class, lessons provided by a nonprofit organization like CoachArt, or through a child’s school, being around their same-aged peers is important for social and emotional development.
6. Nurture Your Own Creativity
If you’ve been looking for a reason to take the time to pursue your own creative interests, just remember that kids learn from watching their parents. 😉 Just as there are significant health benefits of creativity for kids, the same benefits apply to you.
How has art and creativity benefitted you or your child? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your experience with us in the comments.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR FAMILIES IMPACTED BY CHILDHOOD CHRONIC ILLNESS
Since 2001, CoachArt has matched volunteer coaches with students for one-on-one or group lessons in arts and athletics. Our vision is that one day every family impacted by chronic illness will be connected to a community of support and an opportunity to learn and grow together.
CoachArt offers free art and athletic lessons to chronically ill children and their siblings between the ages of 5-18 in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and San Diego. If your child has been diagnosed with a chronic condition, we invite you to fill out a student eligibility form or get in touch to learn if CoachArt is right for your child.
Ways to Help
Do you have an artistic or athletic skill you would like to share with a child impacted by chronic illness? Become a CoachArt Volunteer.