Drawing with your children

Published by Lori Pickert on March 10, 2008 at 04:01 PM


A question from Michelle at Mama Chronicles:

Have you ever had trouble with [your children] feeling inferior to you when you draw alongside them?

I have had a difficult time writing a succinct response to your excellent question.

This is my third attempt to answer without producing a novella.


Draw with your children, and share both your skill and your enthusiasm. Just as it's perfectly fine to learn alongside your children, it's also perfectly fine to share your talents with them. It's no different than reading, cooking, woodworking, gardening — do the things you love to do with your kids. What better gift could you give them?

You may not be more skilled than your children (I'm not!) — that's okay, too! Learn alongside them, and let them share your enthusiasm and your interest. You are modeling having a great attitude about tackling something challenging. You are modeling that not everything worth doing comes easily.

We do lots of things better than our children — drive, for instance. ;^) We read better than they do, but we don't worry that they'll feel bad about that — we're confident their skills will improve, so they are, too. They respect our skills and they want to be like us. With that power comes great responsibility. (Quoting Spiderman!)

Now, tomorrow I'll post about some things you can say to your child if they start comparing their work to others or disparaging their own abilities. And this post isn't a mile long, so — whew!


Comment by Heather on March 13, 2008 at 03:19 PM

Thanks this is so helpful. My kids most of the time see what I've drawn and right away start complaining that they can't draw and that they want me to draw it for them, or saying "I don't know how to draw it". I really am not a great drawer, I try to encourage them, to show them how, but they get discouraged about their own skills so easily.

Comment by MamaBird on March 13, 2008 at 06:27 PM

Ah, I have often wondered about this, and in fact often try *not* to draw with my kids 'cause if I do then it's like a model that they try to follow. Guess I should just relax; perfect analogy to driving etc. Looking fwd to hearing more reflection on this topic (esp modeling and imitation).

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 13, 2008 at 08:08 PM

Heather, one of the things the next post will address is what to say when they say "I can't draw!" or "Please will you draw this for me?" :^)

Thank you for your comment!

J, I think this is one of those situations where the more you do it, the better it works. Getting your children used to working with you side by side, as equals.

I promise I'm working my way toward discussing imitation/copying!

Comment by Molly Irwin on March 14, 2008 at 04:52 PM

I recently received a great comment on my blog about children comparing their work. Reader Nicole has this to suggest: take out lots of children's books and begin a discussion about how each artist has their own individual illustrative style. The children are reminded of the broad range of work. I liked that solution very much.

I'm very much looking forward to your insights.
Happy weekend!

- Molly I.

Comment by michelle gragg on March 15, 2008 at 12:28 AM

Thanks Lori, I definitly do not feel like an artiste! I feel too like I am learning. But, I see that godlike awe in my child's face. It is scary to see that. Partly because I know the disappointment that hits late teen early 20 years when you realize that certain people are not perfect. And also because I want my children to see their abilities. But, I do want to share with them. And modeling fits in nicely with my current education philosophies. M

Comment by Crafty Things on March 15, 2008 at 07:46 AM

Sometimes when children I teach make comments of comparison I point out that - as I am older then maybe - I have just had more time to practice.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 15, 2008 at 03:53 PM

i like that idea, molly. we always had a *wide* variety of artwork posted in the art studio, and not only finished works - copies of sketches, etc. being immersed in artwork (both on the walls and in books) and becoming fluent in talking about artwork can impress on a child that there's no right or wrong way to express yourself.

michelle, i understand what you are saying - my boys are 8 and 11 and i think we've passed that phase! ;^)

tracey, you are beating me to the punch. :^) that is exactly what i say, both about myself and about older children/siblings. hopefully i'll put that post up later today! thanks for your great comment!

Comment by leslie on March 16, 2008 at 03:11 PM

i see a difference between my two kids, the older doesn't want me to help her with her drawing but will wander off the subject and do her own thing (rather than stay on task). the younger one wants me to do it for her. sometimes i "start" the picture for my youngest and haver her "finish" it, sometimes i have my older daughter "help" a bit with the younger one. this is a great topic, made me really think about how i "teach" them to draw.

Comment by molly on March 17, 2008 at 01:04 AM

When Emma gets down on herself because her drawings aren't as good as mine, I say, "well, yes honey, yours do suck, but some day you just might be as good as me." You know, in case you want to use that in your next post about what to say to them.

Kidding. Kidding everyone. Great topic. And definitely an issue with my little determined, perfectionista daughter.

Comment by Sarah on March 17, 2008 at 07:05 PM

Again, great info, ideas, and inspiration. And that post was not TOO LONG! :0

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 17, 2008 at 09:46 PM

rofl, molly - you are a bad, bad person. this reminds me of what i say to one son when he complains that i've favored the other. "that's because i love him more than you."

thank you, sarah! it was ph.d. length at one point! ;^)

Post new comment