“Mommy, look at my picture!” your child says to you. How would you respond to this statement? “Good job!”, “Wow, I like it!” or the one I used to say, “Oh, what is it?”
This might seem like a weird topic to write a whole blog post about, but it’s something I had to retrain myself to do when I had my own children. In this post, I’ll share how to talk to your child about their artwork. (Hint: most of us aren’t saying the “right” things!)
How to Talk to Your Child About Their Artwork
Like I said, this might seem bizarre to write about, but I read a ton about process art when we started our homeschool journey. Process art is emphasis on the process, or steps, it takes to create a piece, versus the finished product. It’s important that we let our children engage in process art, because that’s where creativity really happens. It’s also much more stress-free and child-led, which many of you know… I’m all about!
Part of process art is the language we use surrounding our child’s artwork. So here are a few tips for what to say when talking to your kids about art. And just because I used to say many of the “wrong” things myself, I’m sharing a few things you may not want to say to your child!
Things You Don’t Want To Say
01. “Oh is that a ______?”
This one was difficult for me to retrain myself. I used to say to my students and my young daughter, “Oh, I love that tree” and she would say, “Mommy, it’s a lamp post” or something similar. We see things in their drawings that we feel should be one thing, but they have a completely different idea when they’re creating it! This is why we are better off not naming what we see, but instead saying, “can you tell me about your picture?”
02. “What is this supposed to be?”
If you ask a child what a specific object is, they may not even remember what they drew? Have you ever asked them to name the people? Then they assign each person a different name each time? For children, art really is about process. Don’t put too much pressure on them to name everything they painted/drew. Instead – ask them to tell you about their artwork! Let them lead the conversation!
03. “Wow, you’re the greatest artist in all of the land!”
This is a common pitfall, and something I had a really hard time retraining myself to do. I used to say, “You’re going to be the best artist!” or “You’re such a little artist!” But when we say things like this to children, if they don’t feel they meet those standards of best _______ (insert athlete, mathematician, artist, photographer, etc.) they may feel inadequate. That’s not what we want. So for that reason, I refrain from “labeling” my child, and instead saying “Wow, you really enjoy creating things!”
04. “Wow, that’s so cool/beautiful/etc.”
I’m going to be honest – husband still struggles with this. He wants to compliment our daughter, but isn’t sure what to say. So he gives a generic response. “Wow, it’s beautiful” is hits go-to. She knows it too! Haha. Maybe the artist doesn’t want their picture to be beautiful. What if it’s supposed to be dark and scary? Instead of a generic response, just emphasize how hard they worked to create it or use one of the four options I listed below to compliment your child’s work!
Things You Want To Say
01. “Can you tell me about your picture?”
This gives your child the chance to tell you what they drew. Even if what they say doesn’t match what the picture “looks like”…let them explain what it is!
02. “You used _______ to create this!” or “Look at how you shaded that area so carefully with your pencil.”
Talking about their technique, any tools, or the process they used is a great alternative! This emphasizes the work they put in to create it!
03. “Wow, you used a great deal of colors and patterns to make that piece!”
Talking about the specific colors or patterns you see is always a great alternative to the generic “it’s so beautiful” response!
04. “You worked so hard to create this piece!”
Again, this phrase emphasizes how hard they worked to make it. No matter what it looks like in the end!
I hope this blog post about how to talk to your child about their artwork was helpful to you! Thank you so much for reading!