Posts Tagged ‘children’

Purposeful Parenting & Creativity

July 5, 2015

Purposeful Parenting & Creativity | creativity in motion

July recognizes Purposeful Parenting Month, which highlights the significant relational value of parents and children having resilient and meaningful connections with one another. Purposeful Parenting embraces understanding, unconditional love, and empathy with the consistency of structure, safety, and healthy boundaries. To parent with purpose is to be an active contributor in sustaining rapport, connection, and intention with your child or teen.

One of the group offerings I facilitate is an art therapy group for moms living in a shelter with their children as they work on transitioning out of homelessness. This art therapy group is part of the shelter’s trauma informed parenting support program as an opportunity to receive nurturing assistance during this challenging time to strengthen coping, self-care, and explore empowering ways to sustain an affirming relationship in their child’s lives. The power of art and the creative process offers a safe place to address these topics.  Over the years that I’ve been involved with this program, I’ve met moms of amazing strength and resilience, not only committed to creating healthier relationships and attachments with their children, but often working on their own trauma recovery.

For children who have experienced trauma and loss in their young lives, having adult attachments that engage with purpose and compassion can be a key component to their healing. Perry & Szalavitz (2006) speak to how a child’s relationship with the adults in their lives has an essential component to how they react to trauma. They also note that if a child is surrounded and nurtured by caregivers who are safe, comforting, dependable, and present; this can help protect youth from the adverse effects of trauma, as well as strengthen their ability to recover.

“Recognizing the power of relationships and relational cues is essential to effective therapeutic work, and indeed, to effective parenting, caregiving, teaching, and just about any other human endeavor.” (p. 67, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog).

Ohio’s American Academy of Pediatrics identities six components to purposeful parenting for parents and caregivers to keep in mind. Being Protective, Personal, Progressive, Positive, Playful, and Purposeful in our relationships decreases the impact of chronic stress exposure and ultimately supports a child’s fullest potential and well-being.

The foundation of purposeful parenting and fostering relational enrichment inspired me to reflect on some fun and creative activities for families (and adult helpers involved in children’s lives) to engage in together that encourage affirming experiences and supportive interaction. Creative experiences can be an enjoyable way to foster connection, develop interpersonal ties, and positive memories:
  • Painting with Bubbles or Shaving Cream: These sensory-based twists on painting can encourage play and experimentation between child and parent using simple, inexpensive materials. Levine & Kline (2008) cite that activities involving art expression such as painting and drawing are great bonding opportunities for parents to engage in alongside their children.
  • Sidewalk Chalk: Grab a bucket or box of sidewalk chalk, head outside and take a break to chalk it up together—at home, a local park, or playground! Suggested ideas to support collective participation in this activity include drawing where the child and parent can add to one another’s images, marks, or doodles. If you are up for making your own sidewalk chalk, here’s how. Families can also play these classic sidewalk chalk games.
  • Nature Walk & Scavenger Hunt: Parents, young children, and teens can benefit from unplugging and taking time to enjoy the outdoors, fresh air and reconnect! Take a walk in nature, go biking or hiking together. Create a scavenger hunt of different nature items that the family can look for and find as a group or in pairs.
  • Homemade Play Dough and Goop: Spend a morning or afternoon making a batch of play dough together, or for older kids goop recipes can be equally as inviting and fun. You can even make scented play dough, which can add an additional sensory component to this experience.
  • Visit an Art Museum, Art Festival, or Creative Community Event: Check out your local art museum or art event as a family outing. Many museums have family related programming or guides that can help enhance your experience!  Here in Cleveland, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gallery One offers a hands on, interactive family-friendly art space called Studio Play.  And it’s free!

No matter what the month or season, there is true power in the relationships we nurture for the children and teens we care for, either as parents, caregivers, or helpers. It’s important to keep enriching these healthy attachments by cultivating safe experiences and moments of meaning all year round.

Recommended Reading:

Levine, P.A., & Kline, M. (2008). Trauma-proofing your kids: A parent’s guide to instilling confidence, joy, and resilience. Berkeley : North Atlantic Books.

Perry, B.D., & Szalavitz, M. (2006). The boy who was raised as a dog. New York: Basic Books.

Resources:

Introduction to Purposeful Parenting (PDF) | Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

The Benefits of Purposeful Parenting | Office of Adolescent Health

The Artful Parent

PaintCutPaste

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Children’s Story Books for Trauma Informed Work & Art Making

October 6, 2014

As part of my ongoing re-organizing and inventorying of my work & creative space, I spent some time going through my collection of children’s books that I commonly use in group work (as well as individual sessions) with school aged youth (ages 6-12) and pre-school aged children. Many of these books I have had for years, purchased at trauma conferences, and have found really helpful to introduce a theme or topic that we will be working on before beginning the art intervention.

Children's Story Books for Trauma Informed Work & Art Making | creativity in motion

Shelfie: Children’s Story Books for Trauma Informed Work

Here are some of my favorites and how I like to use them with art making in the groups I’ve done over the years:

Domestic Violence:

  • Hands Are Not For Hitting– I like to use this book with younger kiddos, between 4-6 years old to help discuss helpful and & kind ways we can use our hands instead of choosing to be hurtful.  Often the story is followed by the children in the group tracing their own hands, decorating them with crayons or markers to include with the many ways we’ve discussed about how their hands can be used in positive, respectful, and non-violent ways.
  • A Place for Starr: A Story of Hope for Children Experiencing Family Violence– This book tells a young girl’s story about her mother, brother, and her leaving their home of domestic violence to the safety of a shelter.  The book is now out of print and any available finds are quite expensive to purchase, but if you come across an affordable copy somewhere, I recommend it highly!  I am super thankful to have a copy for my collection- I have found this book helpful for opening up discussions and art-making around the experience of coming to a shelter.

Emotions:

  • Is It Right to Fight? – The content in this book looks at aggression & anger from a variety of perspectives such as bullying, fighting between adults, war and prompts the group/child with questions to explore decisions, situations, and ways we can manage our anger or conflicts without fighting & violence.
  • When I’m Feeling…. series – This series features 8 different books about the feelings scared, sad, jealous, happy, loved, kind, lonely, & angry in very simple & short illustrated stories, which is great to use with young children to explore emotional themes. When we’re going to work on something like Worry Dolls, the When I’m Feeling Scared book is a helpful introduction to learn more about or normalize the feeling.
  • My Many Colored Days–  This book is another favorite of mine: I love the images and descriptions of emotions associated with the different colors– My favorite is the green, calm & cool fish! Lots and lots of possibilities for art-making to promote emotional expression inspired by this classic Dr. Seuss book!  Check out this PDF resource supporting social emotional development using a variety of arts based and hands on activities with this book.

Strength-Based:

  • Just Because I Am: A Child’s Book of Affirmations: I mostly use this book with young children as a way to instill not only how all feelings are OK, but that our thoughts, bodies, and who we are, is important to respect as well. This book goes really well with drawing images or pictures around the theme of “who am I?” or “this is me!”
  • Life Doesn’t Frighten Me– Maya Angelou’s amazing poem meets the awesome art illustrations of Jean-Michel Basquiat in this very inspiring book that tells the story of fearlessness and resiliency.  The narrative from these pages sets a great foundation to do some art-making about our strengths and supports.
  • Courage– This children’s book I’ve used not only in my professional work to introduce what courage is to the youth I work with, but it has also inspired my own creative work!  It’s a great story for adults to be reminded about too and both children & grown ups alike can benefit from creating Couarge Coins!
  • When I Grow Up– I initially bought this book at a local toy store in Chicago many years ago because I really liked the creative illustrations with black and white photographs of children’s faces, but then fell in love with it’s entire concept surrounding the cliche question: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?  Instead of focusing on the typical answer of an occupation or vocation, this book suggests another thoughtful perspective (and fun pictures) such as growing up to be brave, adventurous, generous, imaginative, curious, optimistic, patient, & more.  It’s a great book to explore how we feel about ourselves (and future selves), as well as how we want to treat others.

Trauma & Loss:

Both of these books below are really valuable to help introduce what trauma is, trauma reactions, and learning how to manage traumatic stress through an animal character based story.  After reading and having a discussion about the book, I often invite kids to create art expressions about what they think happened in the story.

Peacemaking:

I use this batch of books & stories to inspire kids about how to become a peacemaker and how make choices to live non-violently in their home, school, and community:

  • What Does Peace Feel Like?– This is my favorite book in this section…. The content prompts children to use their imagination and explore their senses about what peace looks, feels, smells, tastes, and sounds like.  It’s fun to have kids draw one of the senses symbolizing peace to him or her!  Just like the book, I’ve seen that often peace often tastes a lot like ice cream! 🙂
  • The Peace Book– A great introductory book to start exploring simple, but meaningful ways that we can bring peace to others & the world around us!  I like to prompt group members to think (and create about) what peace means to them as an individual, in our group, to others they know (at home, school, their neighborhood), and what peace means globally in the form of a flag,, shield, or mandala.

Relaxation & Self-Regulation:

These two books share lots of different ways for kids to calm their minds and bodies in the face of stress.  Often before it’s time to make art, I like to take time to pause for a little bit of quiet time in the group, where we focus on breathing, movement, and more:

I hope this list and ideas were helpful! A lot of books listed above are linked to one of my favorite resources, The Self Esteem Shop, who supports trauma informed work through carrying many of these children’s books and more.  I hope you will check some of them out, or if you use them already (or others!) share your experiences below!

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Related Resources:

My Trauma Informed Pinterest Board

Peacemaking & DIY Papermaking

Group Strategies & Interventions with Traumatized Children and Adolescents

Creating a Self Regulation Comfort Kit >> Relaxation Bottle

March 17, 2014

Over the last few months, I’ve been researching and collecting different sensory based activities and ideas (mostly on Pinterest) to support self-regulation and creative ways to foster relaxation in children & adolescents.  My long term goal is to create some kind of comfort kit that includes a variety of these hands on tools that I can use in my group work with school age youth impacted by trauma.

For more information about self-regulation, trauma, and children, check out these posts:

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I’ve started to move from the “collecting ideas phase” to the “making & experimentation phase”, embarking on trying out these ideas myself to see how they might work.

My first self-regulation comfort kit accessory I’ve started to work on and play with is a Relaxation Bottle. I became inspired by this idea through discovering this helpful post. I thought this type of relaxation bottle could be a soothing and fun way for group members to calm their minds and bodies, as well as help bring their attention to the here and now through focusing on the inside of the bottle.

I gathered these simple supplies: A plastic bottle, extra fine glitter, glitter glue, and clear tacky glue.

Creating a Self Regulation Comfort Kit >> Relaxation Bottle | creativity in motion

Then I followed these steps to make my prototype:

  • Fill the plastic bottle 3/4 full with hot tap water
  • Add glitter glue, loose extra fine glitter, and about half a bottle of clear tacky glue

The combination of the glitter glue and clear tacky glue creates a sparkly solution for the fine loose glitter to gently dance in. It is important the water you use to fill the bottle with is hot, as this will melt the glitter glue and will prevent clumping inside the bottle.

Group members could first release some physical energy through helping shake the bottle and then watch the glitter slowly settle to the bottom of the bottle. Discussing the impact of this activity in relationship to the youth’s body and awareness of sensations they experienced would also be interesting to learn more about (and express through art!).

 A helpful final touch will include making sure the bottle’s cap is permanently attached with some kind of superglue to keep the solution from getting out!

Creating a Self Regulation Comfort Kit >> Relaxation Bottle | creativity in motion

Having done this first test run, I think my next attempt will try a slightly smaller plastic bottle (it would be cool to have individual bottles for each group member to use), as well as include more glitter glue to make the solution inside a little thicker (I used a smaller sized bottle), but overall… the relaxation bottle idea was fun to make and I think will make a great addition to the toolkit I’m creating.

I will keep you posted on other self-regulation comfort kit accessories I try out as this experimentation phase continues!

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Related Posts:

Inspiration from the 2013 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly

My Trauma Informed Pinterest Board

Top 10: Impact of Trauma and Neglect on the Developing Child with Dr. Bruce Perry

Creating a Kids Dreamcatcher [How to] : Coping with Bad Dreams & Nightmares

August 24, 2013

In my children’s Trauma & Loss Art Therapy groups, we explore common trauma reactions that can surface after something bad, sad, or scary happens that takes away a child’s sense of safety and security in their world.  I often use trauma informed children’s books such as Brave Bart or A Terrible Thing Happened to help introduce and educate children about the different emotional, physical, and behavioral responses they may be experiencing.

As described in both stories through the characters Brave Bart the Cat and Sherman the Raccoon, one of the traumatic stressors can be difficulty sleeping or becoming afraid to go to sleep because of nightmares and bad dreams.

I find creating dreamcatchers are an easy, fun, art-based activity to make together as a group, as well as provide a creative, meaningful way to address fears and worries related to exploring this topic.

Kids really enjoy learning about the Legend of the Dreamcatcher before we start creating:

“According to legend, the good dreams pass through the center hole to the sleeping person, The bad dreams are trapped in the web, where they perish in the light of dawn.” ~Lakota (Sioux) Dreamcatcher Legend

 

Creating a Kids Dreamcatcher [How to] : Coping with Bad Dreams & Nightmares | creativity in motion

When introducing dreamcatchers, I often prepare paper (or styrofoam) plates (small or large in size) by cutting the center out, and punching holes around the edge.  Kids can also help and do this part too! The circle form can then be decorated with markers, oil pastels, foamie shapes, paint, or collage. Yarn is used next to thread through the punched holes, creating a criss cross pattern back and forth over the center of the circle to create the dreamcatcher’s web.  A small piece of yarn is left hanging off the circle’s edge, where a series of pony beads can then be strung together. To complete the dreamcatcher, a few feathers can be securely attached inside the bead’s inside to hang down. Some dreamcatchers have multiple beads and feathers attached to the bottom.

Creating a Kids Dreamcatcher [How to] : Coping with Bad Dreams & Nightmares | creativity in motion

My Dreamcatcher Example

Step by step photo tutorials and other ideas when making paper plate dreamcatchers can be also be seen here, here, and here if you are interested in seeing more examples!

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Related Posts:

Worry Doll | Muñeca Quitapenas [How To]

Finding Safety through Art: Relaxation Inspiration

My Trauma Informed Pinterest Board

Ohio Department of Mental Health Art Display : Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence

October 1, 2012

Earlier this year I was invited by the Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) to display some of the art from youth that I work with in individual and group art therapy at the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center (DVCAC).  ODMH showcases quarterly art displays from various programs and consumers from around the state in their Columbus office at the James A. Rhodes State Office Tower.

According to the ODMH website, ODMH “works to assure access to quality mental health services for Ohioans at all levels of need and life stages”.   One of ODMH’s core beliefs is a commitment to Trauma Informed Care, as well as the Resiliency of Youth.  Check out both of these links on the ODMH website to learn more and access their recommended resources.

The display from DVCAC runs October 1 through December 31 and features art expressions from children & adolescents who have been impacted by domestic violence and are involved in group or individual art therapy through DVCAC’s community-based outreach program. Art on display explores themes related to safety, resilience, emotional expression, domestic violence prevention, and managing trauma stress. Art expressions include collage, drawing, painting, handmade papermaking, paper house making, and mask making.  Click on the image below to download a flier [PDF] about the display.

The timing of this exhibit’s start is also aligned with October being recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Look for related DVAM posts to be featured here on Creativity in Motion throughout this month, as well as resources about domestic violence collected on my trauma informed pinterest board.

If you are in the Columbus area over the next three months, take a moment to visit ODMH and this display.  My appreciation to the youth who participated through sharing their art, feelings, and a part of their life to empower their own voice, as well as bring awareness to others about their experience.

Peacemaking & DIY Papermaking

September 15, 2012

Inspired by my work with and the mission of Peace Paper, over the last few months I have been incorporating handmade papermaking with some of my art therapy work with youth who have been impacted by trauma and loss.

One way we used the transformative process of papermaking over the last few months included expressing some of the emotional burden of experiencing or witnessing someone being bullied. Youth ages 6-12 created and then tore up images and hurtful messages about bullying to destroy in a blender for pulping.  The pulp from this was then used to form new sheets of handmade paper that would become decorated as Peace Flags.  The process of destructing the negative & re-constructing it into something positive was really powerful.  The Peace Flags also served as a visual reminder and a way to dialogue about how each of us can choose to engage in peaceful and less hurtful behavior with one another.

Below is a short video I created about this process:

If you’re interested in learning more about the papermaking steps I implemented, feel free to check out this DIY Papermaking How-to Sheet that you can save, download, or print out through SlideShare:

Also check out the work of Peace Paper, their papermaking tools, tutorials, and resources at www.peacepaperproject.org.

Experience Matters: Inspiration from the 2012 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly

July 16, 2012

Experience Matters Gluebook Spread

I just spent the last week in Clinton Township, Michigan attending the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children’s 2012 Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly, Experience Matters.

The above image is a spread from one of my file folder bluebooks I am currently working on to visually document some of my travels and adventures in twentytwelve. This spread includes printed material and paper stuff I collected throughout the week at the conference, some items from the sessions I attended, the hotel I stayed at, a little distressed ink, Staz On ink, as well as using my  Smash Stamp and Smash Stick.  It was lots of fun to collect stuff, play with laying it out, and glue it all together!

I also created the image below as a creative way to take notes on a session I was attending about implementing a trauma group for adults.  The pre-cut figure shape fits really nicely in one of the file folder gluebook pockets!

In the workshop I presented, Finding a Safe Place: Creating Safety for Survivors of Domestic Violence through Art, attendees spent some of the session making a portable safe place in the form of an artist trading card with various collage materials. This special ATC serves as a symbolic safe place or image that can travel, become mobile, or easily be carried as a visual reminder and grounding tool for well being, comfort, and emotional safety. This ATC can also be displayed on a mini-easel, bulletin board, ones workspace, a nightstand, or become part of a journal (or for stashing in a file folder gluebook pocket!).

If you are interested to learning more about the topic I presented on, you can view the SlideShare here:

I’ve also pinned some content inspired by this year’s Assembly and workshops I attended on my Pinterest board about Trauma if you are interested in checking out any additional resources!

I am looking forward to returning back to Michigan next month to present for VCE’s Trauma Learning Series about the benefits of art therapy with traumatized and grieving children & adolescents…

Worry Doll | Muñeca Quitapenas [How To]

June 19, 2012

My week started off with some Worry Doll making for one of my groups. I forgot how much fun they can be to make!

Here’s a little bit of a worry doll making how to:

Muñeca Quitapenas = Dolls [that] remove worries

Wooden Clothespins, Yarn or Embroidery Thread, Pipecleaners

Wrap & twist a pipecleaner around the clothespin to create arms. Cut to size for arm length.

Begin wrapping your clothespin with yarn. Wrap over the pipecleaner as well.

When wrapping gets to the waist, you can start wrapping each “leg” individually

Wrapping the other leg!

Use markers, colored pencils, or paint to add a facial expression, hair, skin tone, shoes, etc.

I’ve created worry dolls with many youth throughout the years as not only a fun art experience (as seen in The Kids’ Multicultural Art Book: Art and Craft Experiences from Around the World), but in my work as an art therapist, the process is also a meaningful and creative way to explore themes connected to anxiety and worry. Making worry dolls provides a great opportunity for storytelling, to discuss coping, and the repetitive, patterned nature of wrapping the yarn around the clothespin can be soothing and calming.

Finding a Safe Place: Creating Safety for Domestic Violence Survivors through Art

June 8, 2012

I am looking forward to offering a new workshop that will be offered at this year’s National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children’s (TLC) Childhood Trauma Practitioners Assembly, Finding a Safe Place: Creating Safety for Domestic Violence Survivors through Art.  This half day afternoon workshop on the Assembly’s first day will present some of my work addressing safety issues through art expression with youth and women survivors of domestic violence.

In my current individual and group work with women, children, and adolescents, creating a sense of safety has a heightened and complex state beyond establishing a strong therapeutic rapport and alliance. Issues and themes related to safety and managing traumatic stress for survivors of domestic violence are increasingly impacted by feelings of intense worry, a constant state of fear, and living in relentless uncertainty. Addressing safety planning, shelter adjustment, confusing and frightening legal issues related to court, custody and visitation arrangements, as well as coping with difficult secondary losses such as leaving one’s home, separation from friends & family, belongings, pets or changing schools are often here and now realities.

My TLC workshop will present the benefits of art expression in trauma intervention to provide a safe and creative space for survivors to re-establish, become comfortable with, and begin to find a sense of refuge in their lives again. Through sensory based art experiences that support & promote emotional expression, strength based adaptive coping, relaxation, and builds on concepts of resiliency, survivors can also begin to be grounded in hope , compassion, and understanding.

This year’s TLC Assembly, The Experience Matters (July 10-13, 2012) includes a variety of all day trauma workshops & topics, certification courses, and crisis training throughout the week that supports viewing and relating to trauma informed care as an experience.

To learn more about this year’s Assembly, check out the full program of offerings here.  Early registration ends soon on June 11.

Where We Create: Wonder, Inspiration, Motivation, Connection

May 31, 2012

Today marks the last day for the art therapy photo documentary Spaces & Places: Where We Create, an online project that Magdalena Karlick and I launched back in February inviting art therapists, art therapy students, and art organizations to submit digital pics and descriptions about the creative spaces they work & create in, as well as favorite or common materials and media used.

Over the last 4 months it has been a pleasure to see this project unfold…with wonder, inspiration, motivation, and connection.  Over 200 photos from Italy, India, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, the US, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Australia were shared via The Art Therapy Alliance community on Facebook, through Flickr, and posted on the go with Instagram.

I’ve enjoyed experiencing through with project and its collection of photos where art therapy happens, art materials that are offered, and the creative spaces we make our own art.  Equally enjoyable  for me has been the connection the photos have inspired.  Through the power of social media, there’s been many supportive exchanges & interactions in the form of sharing, tweeting, liking, or commenting  that have helped foster community, connection, and creativity.

More to come soon from Magdalena and I on the Art Therapy Alliance’s posterous, as we share our reflections and thoughts regarding Spaces & Places: Where We Create.   A big thank you to Magdalena for co-organizing this project with me, the project’s endorsers, and to each and every art therapist, art therapy student and organization who contributed photos and shared their Spaces & Places.  I invite you to take the time to view all the photos, comments, and connection inspired by Spaces & Places: Where We Create here on Facebook.

I wanted to make my final photo contribution to Spaces & Places: Where We Create with some pics of the art therapy space I worked in today: my art therapy office (below from my previous #wherewecreate submission) where I facilitate individual and group community based services with youth.  In this space today, it was the last session of a children’s trauma and loss art therapy group that I have been meeting with over the last 8 weeks:

Art Therapy Office Space

Art Therapy Supply Stash for Groupwork

For many of my last group sessions, but especially for this children’s trauma & loss group because it helps reinforce themes related to resiliency, I like to spend some time focusing on an experience I introduce as “Stones of Strength”. Each child has the opportunity to select their own personal stone to embellish, make his/her own with permanent marker and by writing one word on the surface that brings him/her feelings of comfort and safety.

The stone can then be used as a tangible, creative, and personalized reminder to keep and use for coping in times of worry, stress, or  difficult days.

A batch of stones from the photo below were creatively developed & dedicated by this group of 6-12 year olds for kindness, love, friendship, and hope, to  just to name a few.

Stones of Strength

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