Connecting with Kids Through Their Artwork

by brady on June 9th, 2014

How To Connect with Kids Through Art

Do you have a child who is constantly showing you their drawings? Most parents I know do.

And while it’s better than constantly nagging for another cookie, it grows tiresome, I know. Inevitably, we exclaim something in that forced-excitement voice (“oooo… I love it!”), and scurry them on their way. I mean, what else do you say?

But beyond desiring praise (which they do), I believe kids show us their artwork as a way to connect. They’ve created something, and they want to share it. More specifically, they want to share it with you.

And it’s super easy to use these interactions to connect with your child and discover what’s going on in their minds. With a little practice, the usual routine of, “Hey I drew something! Give me attention!” turns into insightful conversations that draw out what’s on your child’s mind.

There are many ways to do this, but why not keep it simple? I use only a single phrase:

“Tell me about…”

Seriously. Just one phrase. Here’s how to use it.

When you’re first shown a new drawing, try rolling out a, “Oh, you’ve been drawing. Tell me about it!” (And once you’ve used this a few times, you can drop the first part altogether.)

They’ll probably give you a few details, which will provide other things to ask about. Try something like, “Tell me about what’s going on with this over here…” Or if there is a part of the drawing they didn’t mention, ask about that, “Tell me about this blue part…”

Try it out. Depending on how naturally this comes to you (or doesn’t), it might feel a little clunky at first. Luckily, kids are quick to forget such things.

You’ll get to see beyond what’s on the page to what is going on in their minds. And it allows them to share their imagining with you (crazy stuff in there, right?). Just keep asking about all of the scribbles and the scrabbles, and see what they’ll tell you.

Besides getting to hear what they’re thinking about, you’re also getting to focus on your relationship and conversation more than on the drawing or their ability. Double win.

Of course you can’t go into every details every time. And some days are so crazy you just might pull down the cookie jar instead. But as you’re able, experiment with this phrase and see where it takes you. We’d love to hear how it goes!

Have other phrases or helps for connecting with kids over art? We’d love to hear them! What do you do?