Using Art Therapy to Channel Aggression in Children

Young children may have a hard time communicating their feelings. Often, parents, guardians, or adults looking after them will notice changes in behavior that can signal a problem.

In the case of children with anger and aggression, the behaviors may manifest as acting out, verbally and physically. In most cases, treatment for anger management in children involves behavior modification and medication. However, that may be akin to dressing a wound without addressing the damage or hurt underneath.

Children’s capacity to reflect or think about their own thoughts is limited as their brains are still developing. Therefore, they may act out, break rules, push limits, and adopt inappropriate behaviors instead of rationalising and problem-solving. There can be several underlying reasons for this such as family problems, school-related stress, peer pressure, developmental challenges, or learning differences. 

Art therapy is an effective and non-confrontational therapeutic intervention that can address the root cause of behaviors such as anger and aggression in children.

Since children still lack metacognition, art therapy brings them to a more comfortable and safe place. Hence, it is effective in addressing the psycho-emotional problems in children that they may not be aware of or be willing to talk about.

Through making art, they can let their guard down and the therapist can guide them through the art-making process and art product to address their internal conflicts and needs. Art therapists work through literal and metaphorical representations in the child’s artwork that mirror their inner self.

Every child is different, and it’s amazing to see how random doodles and scribbles can tell a story of what they’re going through. They don’t have to be budding artists or love art for that matter. Art making, in itself, has a charm that can attract young children to engage and draw within their inner thoughts and emotions.

While children may not realize it, they are already speaking through their art. And to help struggling children get to that stage, there is an experienced and passionate art therapist holding their hand through every step.