Old Mother Hubbard had so much of her kid's artwork, she didn't know what to do... While we all have folders bursting with Popsicle stick-glued crafts, it's those original drawings that provide a real window into your family life.
New research from the University of North Carolina found that children's drawings paint an accurate picture of the emotional climate at home. As part of The Family Life Project, nearly 1,000 6- and 7-year-old kids drew pictures of their families. Researchers then compared the situation through routine home visits. The results were fascinating.
Though children at this age haven't yet mastered how to vocalize their emotions, they give away a lot on paper.
What to do with Your Child's Artwork
So-called "high-functioning" environments depicted all members in close proximity, with parents and children sized realistically. Open hands apparently represented a feeling of support within the family.
According to one of the researchers, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Roger Mills-Koonce, the vast majority of kids' drawings conveyed "common themes of warmth, emotional closeness, togetherness and limited tension and disorganization."
Conversely, those in a "dysfunctional" home lacked body parts and facial expressions, arms were hidden or in a downward position, with figures sized disproportionately or placed far apart. "Physical distance may be indicative of an emotional distance or lack of closeness and trust," said Mills-Koonce.
Researchers found these drawings generally reflected homes affected by poverty and cluttered, chaotic environments. Even if kids didn't show outward signs of stress and turmoil, they certainly internalized it on some level.
Of course if your child happens to love dragons and Nerf guns and that is reflected in their artwork, it's likely these themes are nothing to worry about. But in some cases, the page is seeped in unspoken emotion. If parents are at all concerned, they should seek professional advice.