This is part of my Art Journaling Series for Children with Anxiety.
One of the most heartbreaking things about Childhood Anxiety is the negative self talk. This can be especially true if your child suffers from OCD as mine does. These negative thoughts swirl in your child’s brain eating away at their self esteem.
Thoughts like “I can’t” become a self fulfilling prophecy.
Turning the “I can’t”s into “I CAN” is not as easy a process as one might think for people who struggle with Anxiety. It is something that needs to be worked at and developed over time. The words we use have powerful impact, even if we do not voice them out loud.
Our gut instinct as parents is to reassure our Children when they are being negative that they are perfect and they can do anything! However encouragement can often lead them further down the rabbit hole that is negative self talk. We need to understand the emotions and read between the lines.
With my daughter “I can’t” usually means:
“I am frustrated I cannot do this perfectly.”
“I am worried I will make a mistake.”
“I am afraid I won’t be any good at this activity.”
Instead of reassuring her, I empathize with what she is feeling. I hear her, and relate a story of when I was in a similar situation. I remind her that all things take time and practice and the important thing is that she just try. Taking that moment to acknowledge the fear and work your way through it, instead of dismissing it with reassurance will help you both take a small step towards your goal. When it comes to Anxiety, baby steps are everything!
So Lets do an Art Project based around a Positive Mantra.
*I am not an art therapist. I am an artist with an anxious kid.
Positive Mantra’s are used to create a positive mind set through repetition.
For example I often say to myself “I have done this before, I can do it again.” whenever I feel anxiety about teaching a class or going on a photoshoot. That knowledge instantly calms me and allows me to take a breath and move forward.
For a child like my daughter, something simple like “I am loved” or “I am enough” can be a game changer. When I can see her anxiety creeping in I remind her to use her mantra and take a moment to breathe or picture her Positive Mantra Art Journal Entry. It has now become a habit and it does help.
For this Exercise:
Take a moment and discuss what your child likes about him/herself and come up with your own Mantra.
This may bring up negativity, which is OK!
Twist it into a positive.
“I’m not any good at art” (I hear this one a lot)
“I am really creative and have great ideas!”
“I am great at learning things”
(Ivy chose the mantra “I am good at Art”.)
Grab your Art Journal Basket.
Write your Mantra in the center of the Journal Page.
Brainstorm about happy moments.
Draw those happy items around your Mantra.
(Ivy chose to demonstrate her favorite art terms. “Pointillism, contrasting complimentary colors, mandalas and mixed media. Oh, and scratch art.” She said)
What this does is solidify those happy thoughts. Your child can close their eyes and picture their Journal Entry. Now in their mind they can see examples of positivity and give themselves a small boost when negative thoughts are taking over.
Next time Ivy is worried she isn’t good at art, I will have her close her eyes and remember all the artistic things she loves by picturing this piece.
This activity can be repeated whenever the need for a new mantra arrises.
This activity requires little to no prep, any materials can be used and it has a big impact.
Our next Project will be slaying the Anxiety Monsters!
Thank you for taking the time to read my little blog.
I hope it helps bring a bit of sunshine into your life.