A Supertool to Help Kids Process and Manage Their Emotions

Article written by, Kim Gulbrandson, Ph.D.

“Creativity is increasingly being validated as a potent mind-body approach as well as a cost-effective intervention to address a variety of challenges throughout the lifespan”   – Cathy Malchiodi, Ph.D. 

What are Art with Heart Resources?

Art with Heart resources are low-cost interventions that empower kids to manage difficult experiences through creative expression. The books and activities show students how to use art as a strategy for identifying, processing and regulating their emotions in a safe way. This is how:

“…I have trouble expressing my emotions in a non-harmful way, so these art projects are a good way to express these emotions.” – 16-year-old

Identifying and Processing Emotions They give kids time and space to learn about, recognize, name and reflect on their emotions and provide them with a way to process their emotional experiences through art. They provide a means for stopping and thinking about emotions, and for learning from others’ by sharing and listening.

Expressing Emotions They equip kids with strategies for safely expressing and talking about emotions.

Managing Emotions They teach and model creative expression as a strategy for managing emotions by giving kids a means to 1) take a break from the intense emotions, 2) listen and reflect on how others manage strong feelings, and 3) use art as a coping strategy to safely express and release intense emotions.

Do Art with Heart Resources Foster Social and Emotional Learning?

YES! Art with Heart books and resources are creative expression tools that can cultivate social and emotional development. The resources strengthen student capacity to identify, express and manage emotions through creative expression, by facilitating art as a means for processing and digging deeper into emotions. Whether implemented alone with a small group of students or in combination with a comprehensive, universal social skills program like Second Step, Art with Heart resources provide a healthy, safe way for students to develop their self-awareness and self-management competencies for success in school and life.

Creativity and the Arts Promote Health and Well Being

Creativity is a wellness practice, and creative expression can have many benefits for kids. Active participation in art activities is one of the best ways of achieving those benefits (Bolwerk et. al, 2014). Creativity is highly connected to emotions. Drawing can improve moods, reduce stress, and help to regulate emotions by serving as a distractor (Drake & Winner, 2012; Stuckey & Nobel, 2010). People who report feeling happy and active are more likely to be doing something creative (Silvia et. al, 2014). Bottom line: Art activities can foster happy kids and healthy, positive classrooms.


  • Bolwerk A, Mack-Andrick J, Lang FR, Dörfler A, Maihöfner C (2014) How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. PLoS ONE 9(7): e101035. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101035.
  • Drake, J.E. & Winner, E. (2012). How children use drawing to regulate their emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 27, 3, 512-520, DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2012.720567
  • Silvia, P.J., Beaty, R.E., Nusbaum, E.C., Eddington, K.M., Levin-Aspensen, H., & Kwapil T.R. (2014). Everyday creativity in daily life: An experience-sampling study of “little c” creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 8, 2, 183-188.
  • Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254–263. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497

The introductory quote is not meant to be a reference to a research study or to cite what works. The quote is from an article in Psychology Today, called Creativity as a Wellness Practice.