Decode Your Child’s Coloring Pages
Children love to give color, and their work is a reflection of their internal world. Most kids don’t believe about or censor their artwork. For the past 40 years, I’ve used children’s Colouring Web pages as an important part of my pediatric practice. At each well-child visit starting at 4 or 5 5 years old, our nurse asks the child to “give color a picture of your family doing something.” To simplify the process, each exam room is equipped with blank white paper on the clipboard with a black colored felt pen.
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The family colouring helps me review development at a given instant, and it could word of advice me off to potential problems. An individual colouring is a snapshot of your child’s point of view — of her role in the family, her relationship to other family, and her self-esteem. It also may show talents in the child and the family that are important to recognize and validate. It could indicate cultural habits that provide me an improved knowledge of some behaviours or beliefs. I always ask the parents for his or her impression of the coloring page, because our conversation can yield even more information that may well not come up usually.
A large caveat here: Most of us want to find invisible meanings in Coloring Pages, but watch out for overinterpreting. It isn’t smart to read too much into your child’s sketches. Instead, utilize them as an opportunity to talk with your child about what she or he has drawn. Then ask questions about them to improve communication between you. Do your very best to avoid offering too many of your own impressions. I purposely keep the conversation very open-ended: “Tell me about your color. Who will be the people in the picture? What exactly are they doing?” For examples of what you might be looking for with your personal children, check out my examination of these kids’ Coloring Webpages.
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This first picture is a great example of how artwork can be a springboard for dialog. It was attracted by a patient of mine when she was 11. She had lived alone with her mother since labor and birth and she has no siblings. On the top, her physical health, schoolwork, and interpersonal development were just fine. But she made friends gradually and she was unusually cautious about leaving her mother to go to friends’ residences. She preferred to get friends come to her house and play while her mom was nearby. I had been concerned that their close bond got in the way of her learning how to split up from her mommy, which is a necessary part of development.
I hadn’t been able to understand this point across at past office appointments. But with this colouring, I needed an opening. The way they were put so closely mutually, and the fact that a brief string linked the mother and little girl, stood out if you ask me. ONCE I asked Mom, “What do you think relating to this picture?” she in the beginning talked proudly about her daughter’s coloring skills. But she accepted that she could see what I’d been trying to say about their romantic relationship. We could actually speak about it, and she left the office motivated to help her princess (and herself ) learn how to distinguish psychologically while preserving their caring and close relationship.
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Coloring skills often start to tell a story in kindergarten. Although kids at this age have a tendency to use simple stick figures, you will often pick things up from facial expressions, where family members are placed, and what they’re doing. This second picture, drawn with a 5-year-old girl, can be an example of that. She drew her mom on the far left, accompanied by the family dog, her daddy, herself, and her 8-year-old brother. The girl drew herself as bigger than her parents — this typically displays good self-esteem. It’s worthwhile noting that she put herself between her dad and sibling: When children are between 4 and 6 years old, they create a sense of these gender identity. As a part of this normal developmental process, young girls often get literally and emotionally nearer to their father (kids this age have a tendency to get closer to their mom), and the emotions are temporary.