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talking to kids about their artwork; getting kids to open up and tell you about their art File name: talking-about-kids-artwork.

Talking with Kids about Their Artistic Creations

This section talks about how to get kids to open up about their artistic creations. Whether it’s inquiring about the everyday artwork they bring home from school or opening up a conversation about an art therapy project or disturbing picture, these suggestions will get kids talking.

Getting Kids to Tell You about Their Art

1. Never guess the picture

Parents have an awful habit of interpreting a child’s artwork before they’ve had a chance to explain. There’s no quicker way to shut down communication than when you say, “Oh, what a lovely flower” and your child responds with “that’s not a flower, it’s a horse!” In other cases, the child will simply change the narrative of what they drew to match your interpretation of it, in which case you don’t get a window into their mind at all. So never, ever try to start the conversation by +telling them+ what their picture is about.

2. Ask the proper questions

Always ask open-ended questions that encourage children to elaborate on their creation:

  • Can you tell me about your picture?
  • Can you talk about the people in it? (If this is being used for diagnostic or therapy purposes, you might label the figures, if it’s ok with them) -What’s going on in the picture?
  • What are the different characters thinking?
  • What were you thinking about when you drew it?
  • What was your inspiration for the picture?
  • Where did you get your ideas from?


Talking with Kids about Disturbing artwork
If your child drew something disturbing or potentially troublesome, how you react to it is important. If you display a frantic or negative reaction, they’ll shut down, and you’ll never learn more about what motivated the drawing.

1. Don’t be judgmental! If you approach the issue like a crime scene interrogation, you won’t get anywhere. Instead, act genuinely interested in the child’s creation. Start off by saying something like, “My, what an interesting picture you’ve got there! Can you tell me about it?”

2. Ask open-ended questions about their creation which encourages them to elaborate without conveying your own thoughts and opinions about the picture. This will tell you whether it’s something you need to be concerned about, or whether all that blood and guts is simply the result of a kid who likes zombie movies.

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