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How to Talk to Kids About Their Art

by Anna Harpe
September 15, 2023

Here are 4 tips for how to talk to kids about their art. Plus ideas to encourage their continued creativity and self confidence as artists.

Updated August 2023

Are you wondering how to talk to kids about their art?

Maybe you find yourself saying, “Beautiful!” or “I love it!” every time your child brings you her latest drawing, simply because you don’t know what else to say.

Here’s a quick guide to help you know what to say (and what NOT to say) the next time your child shares his artwork with you.

how to talk to kids pin
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

How to Talk to Kids About Their Art

1. Avoid Empty Praise

It’s such a knee-jerk reaction for many of us to pile on praise. “Wow!” “Amazing!” “So beautiful!”  It’s an easy go-to that doesn’t require much thought. 

But did you know that too much empty praise can have negative effects on our kids’ motivations? 

Child development experts tell us that when we pile on the praise, children may start “performing” for our reactions.  Before you know it, kids are drawing pictures to hear the compliments instead of for the love of the process.  Not exactly what we intended, right?

So… what’s a parent to do?  Read on!

Toddler art with tempera paint sticks
Photo by Rachel Withers

2. Make Observations

This might take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, it’s EASY!  Instead of all those “wows,” try making simple observational statements about your child’s art.  You’re not making judgments; instead, you’re noticing.

  • You used so many squiggly lines here.
  • I see lots of red and yellow!
  • You filled the whole paper with your painting.
  • You’re really concentrating while you work.
  • I see triangles and circles.

These kinds of observational statements might feel awkward at first.  But I challenge you to give it a try; I think you’ll be surprised at how naturally your child responds!

child painting
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

3. Ask Questions

Instead of telling your kids what YOU think about their art, turn their attention inward.  Ask questions!

  • Can you tell me what’s in your picture?
  • What did you use to make this?
  • Why did you decide on those colors?
  • What title would you give your work?
  • What would you like to do with your art?
  • Do you feel proud?
child showing artwork
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

4.  Put Your Child in the Driver’s Seat

Can’t think of anything to say?  I’ll make it easy for you:  “Tell me about your work.”

It’s that simple!

Just turn the attention back around to your child and what they think about their work.  It’s a simple, engaging response that gets your kids talking and keeps the focus on the child and the artist.  Perfect!

To help you remember these tips, we created a FREE e-book for you. (If you missed it, clear your cookies and refresh this page!)

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