Give your two-year-old a crayon, and you’ll have a masterpiece ready to be displayed on the refrigerator gallery. Of course, toddlers often don’t need to be given a pen or paper; they'll start joyfully scribbling on just about any surface, including your furniture and walls. Be it random loops or lines or drawing apple trees, art comes naturally to children, and it’s typically something that gives them great joy. However, did you know that your child’s drawings could have a hidden meaning?
Children psychologists say that observing or analyzing your child’s art can give you insights into their state of mind. Through freedom of expression and free exploration, children express themselves, situations, or emotional experiences. As a result, art is valuable to the development of even the youngest child. So the next time your child creates a quirky piece, don’t just pass it as ‘cute,’ try interpreting it.
Another thing worth noticing is kids narrating stories while drawing. While drawing straight lines, kids sometimes create honking noise suggesting that they are drawing dad going to work. This really means that the final art might not be as revealing as the drawing process itself. A study published by Coates suggests that these stories are the best way to get a peek into the little one’s world.
Liza Cruz, artist and founder of Honest Art, points out that parents try to help their children draw or complete their art to make it better. Even when kids draw in the school or a classroom setting, they are asked to draw in a defined way. Instead, she suggests allowing freedom of expression. “I love working with children, and when I am teaching, I push children to try new things and come up with their ideas,” says Cruz. This freedom gets kids excited, and they are challenged to create something that they want.
Understanding Your Child’s Art
As an artist, mother, and someone who loves working with kids, Liza understands children’s art well. While she greatly admires her student’s art, she firmly believes that art is a visual expression of their inner thoughts. She offers some fundamental and recurring elements common to children to help parents interpret their child’s drawings.
Every Color On The Canvas
Therapists and counselors who work with children often use their artwork to understand unexpressed feelings. Children’s art has a logic of its own. If your child’s art is predominantly red or black, therapists suggest it’s worth noticing. Red might be an expression of anger, and black might be linked with sadness and depression.
If the art showcases a wide range of colors, your child is, most likely, happy and excited. Bright colors reflect cheerfulness, and dark colors usually reflect sadness.
Drawing Stick Figures & Family Portraits
All children start with scribbling, which gradually leads to conventional forms like tadpole-human figures or stickmen. The way they draw themselves also gives a good deal of insight into how they feel about themselves. For example, a stick figure with a smile might indicate a happy child. Sometimes shading of particular body parts in a dark color might be a sign of inner conflict.
Family portraits or drawings can give parents clues on their child’s emotional state. Common elements worth interpreting are whether every family member is included, the child’s position in the family portrait (usually the one standing next to the child depicts the closest member), or who’s the biggest in the image (dominant member).
Again, parents must only form opinions when a particular element in the art is repetitive or predominant. The best way to find out what the child is thinking is by asking them questions you might have or allowing them to explain their art. If you have them enrolled in an art class, you might consider talking to the art teacher and getting insights.
Clouds & Rain Might Indicate Anxiousness
If your child is repetitively drawing himself standing under the rain, you may want to consider talking to them. But, on the contrary, most children tend to include a bright yellow sun and flowers, which could imply happiness and cheerfulness.
Houses are one of the first things that a child draws. Details like a chimney, family members, vases, and more imply happiness and serenity in the drawing. Now, what’s worth noticing is the absence of windows or the number of windows the house has. Windows may be a sign of openness to interact or communicate. Four to six-year-old children primarily draw square houses with triangular roofs. These children might also draw a walkway in front of the door.
Drastic Change In Patterns
While children’s artwork changes as they get older, from scribbling to more artistic and realistic forms, sometimes a dramatic change in pattern might cause concern. If you notice your child drawing weapons, bleeding or dark body parts, sad faces, you may want to consider talking to him. It’s not one drawing, but patterns within their artwork you should be concerned about.
It’s always good to analyze your children’s drawings and encourage their creativity. Creativity fosters mental growth and development in children. Assuring that art is a part of their playtime, buying them art materials like crayons, colored papers, enrolling in art classes, or displaying their art around the house are ways to encourage early creativity.