Creative activities that provide sensory stimulation are vital to a child’s healthy emotional and intellectual development, and are strongly advised for young children, says Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist of the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children Dr. Sudarshi Seneviratne.
When a child is born he comes with a brain ready and eager to learn, with a great number of reserve brain cells. ‘When children receive stimulation, these reserve brain cells can form new connections, leading to potentially better performance’, explains Dr. Seneviratne. A child’s brain grows at an explosive rate during the first five years of his life, and has great potential for development, depending on how much stimulation is offered. ‘Multi-modal sensory stimulating activities such as coloring, tearing paper, clay moulding, music and art offer experiences that jump-start brain development, forming important connections for language, reasoning, problem solving, and moral values. The resulting network, which grows daily in the young brain, forms the neurological foundation of skills that your child will use for the rest of his life’, she stresses.
Activities such as cutting or tearing paper, scribbling, colouring, clay moulding, etc. provides basic motor skill development, enhancing co-ordination, strength and grip, and exercise the same muscles that are needed for fine motor skills.
Creative activity is a strong tool that provides other important benefits, such as diagnostic support and an emotional outlet. ‘Some disorders such as autism and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can also be spotted through art activities. Creative activity, especially when used as an early intervention tool before the age of 5, has proven and important developmental effects’ Dr. Seneviratne avers.
In addition creative activity is also an effective emotional outlet, helping children and even adults release stress and strain, providing a safe and therapeutic form of emotional wellbeing. Dr. Seneviratne further advises the use of creative activity in schools as a much needed break from continuous study, stating that a break for activities such as art, drawing, pottery, etc. will help students perform better at their studies.
A simple activity like coloring can provide lifelong benefits for your child. Providing plenty of opportunities to engage in creative activity is an important way that parents can ensure their child’s intellectual and emotional wellbeing, she concludes.
Dr Sudharshi Seneviratne
Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Senior Lecturer in Child Psychiatry
Faculty of Medicine – Colombo
There are many times when I suggest adult coloring books to patients, and they look at me like perhaps we should be switching seats. However, time and again, they come back to me and tell me how beneficial they find them to be. Many psychologists and therapists “prescribe” these to patients for various reasons, and many occupational therapists prescribe them as well! I will also let you know that I practice what I preach, when I was laid up in bed for eight weeks after major surgery, I devoured adult coloring books. When I need to shift my focus or practice my own stress reduction, I break these books out. They have so many uses and purposes that many are not aware of, beyond the obvious outcomes of beauty and enjoyment. Let’s look at their uses a little closer.
Adult coloring books clearly help serve many purposes that are beneficial. They can be so much more than the color by number that people might be thinking they are. They can be focused, therapeutic, relaxing, calming, problem solving, and organizational. As you can see, they are highly effective for many reasons, and the ideas behind them have stood the test of time, even if they feel like they are only the latest fad. Try one out and you may just surprise yourself. If not, at least you have something pretty to hand on your fridge!