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October 20th

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Using Art to Cope with Childhood Trauma

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“To be an artist is to believe in life.” – Henry Moore

While childhood is typically a time of innocence, growth and exploration, traumatic experiences such as the death of a family member, financial hardships, or domestic violence often cause significant periods of stress and anxiety for young children. It’s important to allow your child to feel these emotions, while also implementing best practices to help your child heal. One way that children cope with anxiety is through art. Art allows a child to step out of their emotional distress and focus on something new. It serves as a creative outlet for emotions your child may not know how to express verbally.


Upbring is honored to partner with atxGALS, a group of women who use art to express their own emotions and bring awareness to good causes. Recently, several of their artists visited Upbring’s New Life Children’s Center, where girls seek refuge to overcome the challenges of complex and chronic childhood trauma, to host a hand-lettering workshop.

“We overheard some of the girls encouraging each other. One of the girls wasn’t happy with how her hand-lettering was shaping up, so she was asking a tablemate to “fix” hers. Her friend responded, “Yours doesn’t have to look exactly like mine to be good. Just work on it more. Try this.” And she showed a few techniques. It was great to see some of the girls work together and show support for each other in this way.” –  Whitney Turetzky of atxGALS

The beautiful thing about using art as a coping mechanism is that it’s not limited. There are countless activities and outlets you can utilize to help your child process emotions – whether they’re brought on by everyday stressors or more traumatic events. Here are five simple activities that can make a world of difference for your child’s anxiety:

Finger paint

Allow your child to get his or her hands dirty and create something unique without using brushes or artistic tools. You can tell your child to paint the color of the emotion he or she is feeling to assist in coping with any triggers.

Make puppets and put on a puppet show

Make puppets out of felt or construction paper and act out your child’s favorite story or make up one of your own.

Color in a coloring book

Following patterns and staying between the lines allows your child to focus his or her energy on something other than their frustrations and anxiety.

Chalk art

If your child is frustrated or upset, allow him or her to go outside and draw on the sidewalk with chalk. Your child has the opportunity to be creative, while also getting some fresh air and stepping away from triggers that made him or her upset.

Bible journaling

Bible journaling combines art with the context of the Bible, allowing children to get creative while finding comfort in the Word. Children can doodle their favorite verses or pictures to go along with Bible stories. Journaling Bibles are sold online and at most bookstores.

For more information about atxGALS, visit their Instagram @atxgals or find them on Twitter @gals_atx.

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