Home with young children

Environment at home, when there are young children, needs flexibility, repeatability and predictability and emotional calmness. This helps young children grow securely with happiness. It is essential to be flexible in your routine, however, regularity of sleep, timings of eating habits, and repetition of actions such as responding with smiles, look of appreciation at person when impressed, are desirable behaviours.

Too much disorganization of home in terms of odd or changing timings for daily routines of adult members and high noise levels (arguments) will confuse children and can form basis for anxiety, insecurity & uncertainty

Role of Art & Art Therapy

Role of Art & Art Therapy in the Holistic Development of Children and Psychological Healing of Clients with Emotional Issues

A brief descriptive summary of the Workshop on Art Therapy held on April 14, 2018

Art, Art classes, Painting sessions, Summer Art Classes! What are they all about? How do they help or benefit the growth and development of children at all ages?

Art can help children improve their communication skills, their social interaction and emotional and physical development.

Are art classes different from Art Therapy? Who can benefit from Art Therapy?  What activities are involved in Art Therapy?

Art Therapy is the deliberate use of art to address psychological and emotional needs. Art Therapy uses the media of art and the creative process to help in areas such as, but not limited to, fostering self-expression, creating coping skills, managing stress and strengthening a sense of self.

Art includes visual (like painting) and expressive arts (like music, clay work, poetry, dance, sand therapy and drama/theatre). Art is different from Art Therapy. Art Therapy involves the use of art for psychological counselling to treat developmental (mental or intellectual limitations), medical conditions (cancer, dementia), and resolution of unexpressed emotional conflicts. Art Therapy can also be used to manage troubled behaviors (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, self-injurious behaviors, anger issues in children), building interpersonal skills (socially shy, introvert temperament), regulating emotions in stressful situations (occupational, academic, career related areas) and to achieve insight of more troubled emotions (in abuse, loss of loved on, failure etc)

Art Therapy has several benefits.

Some of these may be physical like building strength in arms, hands and fingers (in young babies/toddlers, in those with weak hand or limb muscles) by activities like holding crayons, paint brushes, pencils.

Art Therapy also helps in sensory exploration, as a fun filled, pressure free, pleasurable activity of creating things that are colorful.

Art Therapy also helps in improving eye-hand and motor co-ordination.

For preschoolers, the creation of art maybe a big accomplishment as they enjoy the process of involving in art by representing real or imagined objects. This helps them develop their thinking process and imagination.

For school going children, Art may help in preparation or further improvement of writing skills and better motor control of the finger grasp. These children can also develop a sense of sharing, responsibility, social skills development and social interactions as they work in groups. Art also helps improve observation skills necessary for life and academics, helps them to interact or be more sensitive to nature and the surrounding environment. Art also helps them share their experiences, express or verbalize their feelings and helps them improve their self-esteem.

Art Therapy can include activities like painting, drawing, sketching, doodling or visual arts. Art Therapy can also include activities of movement or expression like music, dance, drama, role plays, and sand therapy.

Art Therapy facilitates positive change by involving in the creation of something- productivity as an achievement in depression. Art Therapy can also be used as a distraction in obsessive compulsive behaviors shifting the focus away from the obsessive compulsive behavior.

Art Therapy can also help with the ventilation of emotions that are difficult to express using words especially in conditions of anxiety, abuse, or anger/acting out in children as well as in adults.

Art Therapy thus allows an individual to get in touch with their feelings that they find difficult to express otherwise.

Art Therapy modifies the physiology and structure of the brain and leads to a more flexible, adaptable individual. The therapy works with multiple senses (vision, touch, smell, hearing) in addition to muscle movements and social interactions with others. Art Therapy can thus help to heal an individual mentally, emotionally, and physically while they build skills to cope with the pressures of life.

At our center, Manasvin’s Center for Marital and Family Therapy, we use art therapy effectively as a psychological healing method.

We have an artist (trained from Shantiniketan) who works individually and through group sessions. Art Therapy sessions are customized to the needs of each client based on inputs from a trained clinical psychologist and includes visual arts (painting, drawing, sketching) and expressive arts like Music Therapy (Guitar, Flute), Work with Clay, Sand Therapy, Role Plays, Poetry and Story writing and telling sessions.  


Highly Career Oriented Parents are a boon or bane to their children?

Career oriented parents maybe considered as good role models for their children but sometimes can be disastrous if children have their own dreams to fulfill or limitations in their abilities. Often, children are brought to clinical attention for psychological evaluation with stress related to perceived expectations even though not obviously spoken by or demanded by their parents. Unspoken influences by parents seem to bother children especially in the teenage group. Often, parents talk to their friends about their children (in the presence of the child) as to how he/she stood first in a game/academic performance, indirectly suggesting the child that he/she will be appreciated when in limelight. The growing teenager with an unfolding temperament of wnating to be accepted and appreciated may be sensitive to such statements. Often, conversations between adults focus on “how many children do you have, what do they do, which school they are in” without any malicious intent but possibly leading to unforeseen consequences. Parents may also consider their children spending time with their friends without engaging in any meaningful “academic” or “competitive activity” as a waste of time or being aimless.

Can parents recognize this change in their child (a drop in motivation) with their own stress, the limited time spent with children, lack of common routine with time shared together? Sometime of a day or at least a day in a week should be set aside for everyone to share their day. This could be structured or unstructured with the focus on sharing both the perceived gains or good stuff as well as the perceived pains or bad stuff.  These sessions may also help to understand specific needs of children. The focus of such sessions is to share and listen and not to sermonize or be judgmental thus encouraging children to feel free to open up about their experiences.

There is a need for parents to recognize that career is important but it alone does not make their child a well groomed or well adjusted personality in future.  Spending quality time together even if it is just talking is a great stress buster for children, quality time will imply that one parents do not multitask during this time period.

Often, parents want children to follow their own career paths so that a separate foundation for career need not be laid, children can just piggy back onto their parents career. Although the intention is often to have their children settle faster and not have to go through the same growing pains, this may sometimes be at the cost of the child’s own dreams and their abilities or limitations.

Success is often a perceptional point of view that will vary with each individual. People can be successful in one aspect of life and be considered as failures in another aspect of life. Showing sensitivity towards your child’s dreams and aspirations may help them reach their full potential and make them a happy person.

Rearing Children- A Challenge or Pleasant experience?

With increased complexity of our life styles and increased orientation towards careers, we hardly take quality time for raising a child. Rather, we focus more on having them run with us from morning till bed time. As parents, we have our busy careers or schedules where as our kids are competing equally with us with 7 am to 7 pm school hours and after school activities. On the weekends, we are tired and drained from the week, while our kids are either busy with coachings or extracurricular activities. Then the only time spent together (leave alone teaching/disciplining a child) would be in front of TV or watching movie or eating out in a restaurant. This is the story of almost all nuclear families these days.

When these kind of routines are considered as normal to our family environments, what about families where there is a special child or a child with special needs to care for? What if there is a child or another family member with a medical illness to care for? The flooding of the market with newer gadgets and our need to replace our emotional support with materialistic needs, expensive school admissions, expensive vacations are additional aspects that look exciting but need to be carefully considered for their benefits or potential harm. The grass on the other side is not always greener. Children spend a lot of time playing with their gadgets (play stations, computer games etc) and often at the cost of their sleep and food. Eating healthy food at appropriate times takes a backseat with “snacking” the preferred food. Comparisons with the peer group abound on who has the most material things, low tolerance and high frustration levels, a reducing respect for human and emotional relationships, and an attitude of “It is alright, what is the big deal?” are more common these days.

As adults, are we able to identify the early signs of diversion from the education they are supposed to receive? Are we able to take time to work on these possible issues before they become more problematic? Are we able to be firm or discipline or direct the child towards an acceptable path? Or do we end up crying over spilt milk while consistently refusing to see the signs of impending trouble? Do we assuage our feelings of guilt or convenience by giving more materialistic stuff at our children that sort of drives them farther and farther away?

Anything that is recognized early can be worked at systematically. What should we focus on?

  1. Healthy eating and sleep habits is of prime importance. Starting earlier is better. Help yourr child to eat and sleep at the right times. Teach the importance of eating all the food on the plate.
  2. Boundaries with regard to their behavior of exploration and experimentation. A young child of 2-3 years will try to follow or model their parents. As an adult, you need to work at yourrself to improve them. Your ability to be sensitive, flexible and thoughtful in human interactions will be picked up by the children. Your behavior towards your fellow human beings and animals, use of material, the limits of acceptability, empathy, leadership and positive authority are important. Setting boundaries need not always be restrictive or negative..it can be a positive enriching experience.
  3. Be organized and use material appropriately. Stop blackmailing your child by repeatedly reminding them of how much you sacrificed for them or how much effort you put for them. Instead, focus on reinforcing the positive actions of the child that has helped earn your respect and rewards for the child. Set a limit for what material you provide to your child, try to provide material that can be useful and constructive. Do not hesitate to discuss these with your children or to explain your choices to them. Do not hesitate to listen to them.
  4. Let us not carry our baggage to our children. How your parents treated you is not necessarily the basis for how you treat your child. Your child is an individual in his/her own right. Changing societal values over time have to be taken into consideration. What was considered routine decades ago may not be considered appropriate now. You need not focus on fulfilling your dreams or desires through your child. Learn to understand your child and see them as an individual in their own right.
  5. Focus on education. It is important to understand as a parent that the purpose of education is not just to earn money or fame but to develop into a thoughtful sensitive fair human being. The focus on investing or spending on materialistic things should instead be shifted into providing the child skills to take independent ethical decisions. Help the child to grow continuously and develop the skills to learn on their own making informed choices.
  6. Focus on values/ethics. The values that are important as an individual, learning to respect all schools of thought, understanding the reasoning behind rituals such that rituals are not just routine are all important aspects. Some of these are imbibed, some have to be reinforced. Your child observes keenly the values and ethics you practice. You have to work on yourself to improve them.


This is an incomplete list but brings about the need to first look at ourselves as a parent before we try to chaange our children. The challenge can be pleasant and something that can be worked together with the child(ren) building long lasting bonds. We, as parents, have to be open to growing and learning with our children.