Open a Window to Your Kids with Paint
Susie E Caron
Want to get to know your kids better? Want to understand what makes them happy or what’s bothering them? Open a window to your children with paint!
Today I'll tell you why & how this works and what helps get the flow of information going-along with the paint.
How does painting help?
Painting together helps kids (and adults) express emotions and verbalize some of the thoughts that go with the feelings. Kids find it easy to paint. Painting brings out feelings easier than drawing because it pulls from a different part of the brain. The sensory experience of laying wet color on paper offers a kind of ‘flow’ state that allows feelings to become words - in a safe environment.
What you’ll need.
All you need is a cleared surface, inexpensive watercolor paint, brushes (or cotton swabs, pieces of sponge or rags), paper & water. Clear the table, put out the supplies and turn on a bit of music if you like. For kids between 5 & 9 this will probably last from 30 to 60 minutes.
Some painting prompts.
Now, kids will paint without prompts, but here are a few to help you get the conversation, and information flowing.
Ask them to paint their happiest feelings.
Ask them to paint what makes them mad.
Ask them to paint people they know and perhaps anyone they think could be scary.
Ask them to paint their family, house or school.
Ask them to ‘tell you about their painting.’
Don’ts and Do’s while they paint.
It’s important that during this painting time you don’t direct their paintings or correct what they tell you and don’t teach. If you really want to ‘hear’ them and learn something, this offers a fun time (and information too). This isn’t about right, wrong, or accuracy. Instead let them paint at will. Be kind, supportive and paint with them.
Paint with them. Your painting doesn’t have to be spectacular. If you have artistic talent – great. If you don’t just paint sky with balloons or flowers or hearts. Paint something that you can say it’s about how happy you feel painting with them. Keep it simple and loving.
What and How to ask questions to open their windows.
This is time for you to get to know your children better. So feel free to ask open ended questions. (Those are questions Kids can’t answer with a simple “ yes” or “no”. )
Instead of “Is that a picture of x,y,z?” Say “I like your painting. Tell me about it.”
Instead of “Oh that looks sad (happy, etc)”. Say “Oh that’s really interesting. What's it all about it.”
If you don’t understand something they say. Ask them to tell you some other way.
One more thing: How to respond to what they say.
It’s really encouraging to them (and they’ll tell you more) when you ‘reflect’ what they say. This is easy to do. Simply repeat what they say in your own words. For example, “So are telling me you feel like this activity or person is a lot of fun to be with.” Or “I hear you that situation (person) can be scary.” Or even “
“ Wow You really like blue trees.”
When they seem finished (or you’ve had enough) thank them for painting with you. Tell them you really enjoyed the time together and to see their paintings. After they dry hang them on the refrigerator for a few days. Don’t throw them away. Instead after a short time, offer the paintings to the kids for their rooms. Perhaps they’ll be replaced with next week’s art.
Reflect on What did you learn about your kids.
When you opened this window what did you learn?
You just provided a safe space and caring relationship with your kids. This is how you get them to open up to you. Now take what you learned and adjust how you want to keep the communication open and make this fun so they'll do it again. They may even continue to talk with you in their ‘tweens and beyond.'
Relationship is key to raising good kids. Listening to them and sharing an activity like painting will open windows to their inner thoughts and feelings. It helps develop an open and honest relationship between you and your kids for years to come.
Susie Caron, acrylic artist, creates realistic paintings of pets, animals, and selected scenes. Her love of and experience with many pets and farm animals throughout her life, enables her to capture the unique feeling and expression of each subject. In her commission pet and livestock portraits, Susie also works with each customer to discover and then reveal the personality and special bond between pet and human.
Memberships and Affiliations