Updated: Mar 28
Helping your child express feelings by drawing. How does that work? and is that for me? In this blog I share my experiences as a mom and visual consultant and give you 3 easy steps on how to help your child express feelings by drawing. It is more easier than you might think!
Who likes to draw? We do! Not just mommy the so called “visual consultant”, but the kids are a fan of drawing as well. When we are killing time …we draw. When we communicate…we draw. When we feel sad or overwhelmed, guess what… we draw! Why am I pointing this out? Because I discovered by using drawings my kids are able to express their feelings, we communicate better and they sleep better as well.
Everybody can draw
OK, you might think: “That is you and your drawing skills…” But after teaching over 20 workshops of visual thinking to all kinds of people I can tell you: you are able to draw! It can be hard or scary to try but in the end one picture says more than a thousand words and makes it a lot easier to communicate. We all made drawings when we were young. It is just when we get older, we start to criticize what we make instead of just doing it and have fun. And to tell you a secret: kids don’t judge your drawings. So just give a try 😊.
Drawing takes you “out of your head” and into your body
A few years ago my daughter turned 4 years old and went to school. I was busy…having two young kids, working fulltime and running the household. She was very excited but also scared and had a lot of emotions she didn’t know how to express. At least not verbally. She cried a lot and I felt tension in her body. I knew something was up, but I didn’t know how to get her to talk about it. Then one day I was drawing at the kitchen table and she asked me if she could join. We started to draw about her day at school and she actually started talking! I discovered the power of drawings as a strong communication tool with my child. That was the start of me helping my child to express her feelings by drawing. We continued our journey by using these 3 simple steps:
1. Create a nice space to unwind
When my daughter is feeling overwhelmed, she likes to sit down by herself in a quiet place. Coming home from school feeling overwhelmed from all the things going on at school I make a quiet place. I have a small table just for her and give her some paper and pencils so she can draw whatever she wants. It gives her the headspace she needs. When she draws, she gets out of her head and into her body. It creates the space that is needed for us to have a conversation about her day at school.
2. Start by drawing the basic emotions
I started with drawing faces of basic emotions, like emojies. I used sad, happy, scared and excited. Starting the morning routine was a hard time for her, so we agreed to get up early to have all the time we needed. I would draw the emojies and ask her how she feels by letting her point out one of the smileys. I told her that it is OK to feel like this and that was the start of a good conversation about feelings. Getting home from school we could get the emojies back on the table again and talk about how it was during the day. You all know the emojies on your phone so you can copy them on a piece of paper and off you go!
3. Use templates
A picture is not only nice to look at, it speaks to the mind ánd the soul. A template invites you to do something with it. For example, if you draw a paper full of clouds and ask a child to write or draw their scary thoughts in the clouds, he or she will feel more invited to do so, than if you ask them to talk about it. After filling it in, you can ask them to give the thoughts to Mister Wind and blow the scary thoughts away.
Another example is to draw a simple person and ask a child to colour the location in the body where they feel the emotion. You will be surprised how effective it is, so I dare you all to just try and start drawing.
Collecting it all in a fun workbook
I never lived outside my home country, so when we were planning to move from the Netherlands to Taipei with two kids, I thought it would be very scary for them. But learning from my previous experience I started to make templates with drawings to help the whole family cope. And guess what, the transition of moving to Taipei went actually smooth! It is no wonder that I am now proudly working on #menandmybigmove, a workbook for kids who move to another culture or environment. I truly believe it can help you and your child in this big life event. I collected my experience as a mother and visual consultant and even better…. the experiences of other mothers who dealt with this before. Together with Lonneke van den Elshout we are creating this book, which will be launched Spring 2020!
In the coming period we will share more templates and tips on this page. So stay tuned!