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Drawing for Kids: Encouraging the Reluctant Artist

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Drawing for Kids - What to do when children are reluctant to draw

Updated May 2021

When I asked for your questions and problems in a recent newsletter, several people emailed asking me about drawing for kids and specifically on how to encourage the reluctant artist.

There are two sides to this issue.

Some kids just don’t seem that into art, especially drawing and painting. If you have one of these kids, my post on “What to Do When My Child Doesn’t Like Art” might be helpful.

But sometimes, a child does like to draw and paint but gets frustrated with their skill level and/or compares their work to that of a sibling or adult or even to their own vision. And that frustration can lead them to say that they can’t draw and can lead them to avoid drawing.

If this describes your child, I have a few tips for you!

encouraging the reluctant artist pinterest

Drawing for Kids: Encouraging the Reluctant Artist

First, please don’t ever let your child hear you say that you can’t draw or that you’re not creative. These kids of ours learn so much from us!

Second, try to make drawing fun and lighthearted. Play art games where the focus is on connection and on drawing for the fun of it.

child drawing with kwik stix (1)
Photo by Rachel Withers

Here are some drawing games you can try:

girl doing double doodles
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

Some other drawing activities to consider that are more about the process and less about the finished product are:

frames drawing
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

If the child seems to want it, consider teaching some drawing skills or use a how to draw book. I like these two:

You can also move away from drawing altogether for a while and focus on other process-oriented art activities such as collage, action art, printmaking, suncatchers, clay and playdough modeling, toothpick construction, and photography.

Invitation-to-Draw-Award-Winning-Book_Pin

Drawing Prompts and a New Book!

Another great way to encourage reluctant artists is through drawing prompts! Drawing prompts help children draw and think more creatively by inspiring them with interesting and challenging art prompts and questions. And guess what – I have a new book full of drawing prompts!

Invitation to Draw offers 99 open-ended drawing prompts, each one proposing a question to investigate that encourages children to free associate and problem solve. A blank cake provides the chance to decorate a dream confection, an empty house inspires stories about who lives there, and a grid of triangles supplies the chance to explore abstract art. What might be hiding in that tree? What sort of robot can you design? The possibilities are endless!

child painting on floor
Photo by Rachel Withers

More Drawing Ideas for Kids

 

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Drawing for Kids: Encouraging the Reluctant Artist

5 Comments

  • Reply
    Gillian
    May 17, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I am not that good at drawing (we can say this when the kids aren’t around, right?), but I feel much better about it when I compare my current art to my previous attempts. Maybe there’s a way to make a game of practicing and seeing improvement.

  • Reply
    Brigitte
    May 18, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I totally relate to this: “… But sometimes, a child does like to draw and paint but gets frustrated with their skill level and/or compares their work to that of a sibling or adult or even to their own vision. And that frustration can lead them to say that they can’t draw and can lead them to avoid drawing.” My 4.5 year old daughter is more this one than the first one. I’m an artist so I have to be very careful not to get too carried away around her as she gets disheartened when she can’t come up with something as good as mine and throws the paintbrush in the end. Sad but true. She still loves drawing and painting but yes, I do have to be a little careful. It doesn’t stop me encouraging.

  • Reply
    Juile
    May 19, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I wrote about what worked for my kid…
    https://www.fatbraintoys.com/play/2015/11/16/inviting_my_reluctant_son_to_do_art.cfm

    It had a lot to do with valuing the scribble.

  • Reply
    jumbootoys
    May 30, 2016 at 4:36 am

    Every child has their own creativity, just pull them in their interest, and i like the way child create their own new style in drawing.

  • Reply
    The Salty Mamas
    November 29, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    Thank you so much for this list! My daughter LOVES art, but is extremely reluctant to draw, which is tricky when much of her kindergarten “homework” is drawing. Will be trying some of these tomorrow!

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