How Parents Can Help Foster Communication with Their Children through Art
Being open to your child’s self expression is key in promoting open communication and expression of feelings.
Encourage your child to create in the media of their choice: drawing, painting, clay, writing, drama, music .
Take time to watch and listen. It’s important that your child feels heard and that they can see your attention is on them. This helps them feel as though their self expression is good and important.
If your child is making art, Sit next to them and Create too. Sitting with them helps reinforce your relationship. If you make art too, your actions will naturally mirror your child’s actions, helping to promote bonding and the feeling that you are approachable and relatable.
If your child is expressing themselves through music or drama the same above concepts apply. Take time to listen, or get involved. Ask your child how you can be involved or if they will perform their skit/act when they are ready.
Show Interest but take care not to be overly responsive. Sometimes your child’s self expression may surround negative emotions. It is important that they express their negative feelings and that you allow for this.
When your child show’s you their artwork try saying “Can you tell me about it”. This statement stops any possible perceived judgment and promotes story telling. The story telling will allow your child to tell you all about their thoughts.
Ask Questions. Try asking questions about your child’s self expression; their artwork and associated story, the theme of their play, topic of their poem. Try asking “can you tell me more about ______________”. Again, avoid statements like “why did you draw that”, or “why did you write about this”, those statement can suggest to children that they should not have been expressing themselves about the topic they chose.
Its not about you, its about them. When your child expresses themselves, listen and try to relate. Try not to use phrases like “I wish you didn’t feel that way”, or “ It hurts me that you think _____________”. Many children will limit self expression out of fear that they will make you feel bad or that they will hurt you emotionally.