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Information on How Art Helps the Behavior of Disadvantaged Children

by K. Nola Mokeyane, studioD

Disadvantaged children have a heightened risk of adopting negative behaviors because of their exposure to environmental stressors, according to Bryn Mawr College's Serendip Studio. Artistic expressions such as dance, painting and sculpting help disadvantaged children release some of the negative emotions that they tote around or release through behavioral misconduct. Art also lets disadvantaged children with behavioral problems have a voice and express themselves.

Emotional Expression

According to research conducted by the Childcare Education Institute, "art offers children an important outlet for emotional expression and the assurance that their feelings are valuable," which is particularly critical for disadvantaged children whose feelings might have never been validated. Expressing emotions such as anger or fear through artistic expression such as dance or writing allows children cope with aspects of living in a healthy, safe space. It also enables them to release difficult emotions instead of repressing them.

Skill Building

Art can be used to teach children how to demonstrate appropriate behaviors, which is a more effective technique than subjecting children to punishments that only attempt to eradicate the negative behavior without teaching them new skills, according to the Partners Resource Network. For instance, parents, teachers and mental health workers can introduce conflict resolution concepts to children, such as anger management and compromise, by having children draw images of themselves playing independently to calm down after a conflict.

Increases Self-esteem

The American Art Therapy Association suggests that art therapy helps to increase a person's self-esteem, which is essential for disadvantaged children whose self-esteem is threatened by socio-economic and environmental stressors. Through artistic expression, children are allowed to process difficult emotions and become more self-aware in the process, which helps to increase self-esteem and temper disruptive behaviors.The Kennedy Center's Arts Edge, a cultural and educational resource, states that the arts help to instill pride in children, increase opportunities for self-expression and help kids develop real life skills, which also contribute to healthy self-esteem.

Improves Academic Performance

Art helps disadvantaged children's academic performance, helping them master reading, improving their problem-solving skills and, ultimately, decreasing negative behaviors, according to the Americans for the Arts organization. Art also helps to lower dropout rates, which hits disadvantaged children the hardest, according to the organization. Personal achievement that is gained through academic success can encourage disadvantaged children with behavioral issues to focus on their accomplishments, and realize the benefits of performing well academically while redirecting their maladaptive behaviors.

About the Author

K. Nola Mokeyane has written professionally since 2006, and has contributed to various online publications, including "Global Post" and Modern Mom. Nola enjoys writing about health, wellness and spirituality. She is a member of the Atlanta Writer's Club.

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