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"Look at what I made!"

Updated: Apr 3

5 Empowering, Sensitive Ways of Responding to Children’s Art

We stammer when we see children’s artwork for a variety of reasons. It’s okay that you don’t always know what to say when the finger painting or mashup of pipe cleaners and buttons are thrust in your face. Most parents vaguely sense that to judge for realism would be somehow wrong, but simply praising it feels inauthentic too. And if they made it during a counseling session or it seems scary, how do we analyze this? What’s a good parent to do?

  1. Express gratitude. Thank them for showing you and sharing their creativity. This opens communication without a single question.

  2. A simple “Tell me about it” goes a long way!

  3. Listen for a narrative. See how they connect the pieces to gain insight into their world.

  4. Use “minimal encouragers” such as “Wow!” “mmmm” and “oooh” to demonstrate your interest, These open-ended responses allow the child an option to expand on details or express feelings.

  5. Focus on how the child made it. This involves asking about where they started first or describing what materials you see they’ve used. 

If you’d like to improve your communication, play and relationship with your kiddo who is struggling, please reach out on my contact form to pursue individual or group counseling services. 

About the author: Joy Cannon is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Play Therapist and National Certified Counselor providing group, individual and play therapy in her hometown of Austin, Texas. Her specialties include young children ages 3-7 years, caregivers of people with chronic illnesses or mental health diagnoses and groups.

Disclaimer: The above information is intended to provide a general overview of mental health topics or child development. This information is not a replacement for professional psychotherapy or diagnosis. Seek consultation from a licensed professional for personalized treatment planning.

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