How To Get Your Kids Talking About Their Art
Picture this: Your elementary school aged child comes home from school with another drawing or artistic creation. They attempt to show you in the car, while you’re merging into traffic. You respond with “how nice” or “I will look when we get home.”
Once home, however, the hustle and bustle of life – getting the car unloaded, asking about homework, children wanting to go outside to play – begins.
Whether the artwork is displayed somewhere in the home, or just placed neatly away with the ever growing collection, did you ever take the time to ask about the art?
It is very common for parents to be so overcome with their busy schedules that, when their children show them the newest “masterpiece,” the parents respond with “great job” or “looks awesome.” Sometimes, the children themselves forget to share once home. However it happens, this can be a missed opportunity to better understand your child’s world.
Artwork can be a direct correlation to the world around us. It is a representation of our mind at work, attempting to capture different thoughts, feelings, inventions, or memories on paper (or other artistic forms). Asking specific questions about your child’s artwork can be a way to tap into what your child is experiencing.
Here are a few things to consider when starting that conversation:
Keep your questions open-ended, allowing for open dialogue. For example: Can you tell me about what you created? What is this here (pointing to a part of the art piece)? What made you think of creating this?
Make sure the questions are not judgmental or disapproving. When you take an interest in what they are doing/creating, they will want to begin including you. Art is a creative outlet, and, at times, provides an avenue for us to make sense of things we cannot otherwise make sense of. Children do not comprehend that this is something art does, but use art in this manner naturally, subconsciously.
Be careful not to assume anything about the artwork. Keep your responses positive no matter how they answer your questions. If the child sees your face shows negativity or disinterest, or that your response is negative, this will disengage them from telling you about future artwork. Maintaining positivity can foster improved relationships between parent and child and motivate the child to continue sharing bits and pieces of their world.
Don’t shy away from making art with them. Asking questions about their art shows interest, engagement, and, most likely, requests for you to create art with them. By participating, while continuing to ask questions along the way, you can explore more of what is on their mind.
Megan Parrish is a Licensed Professional Counselor, as well as a Board Certified Art Therapist in Edmond. She utilizes art therapy and counseling with all ages.