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How to Talk to Kids About Their Art

by Anna Harpe
July 4, 2021

4 tips for how to talk to kids about their art and ways to encourage their continued creativity and self confidence as artists.

Kids drawing of puffin and ocean
Photo by Rachel Withers

Updated July 2021 by Anna Harpe

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.

Kids painting art mural
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!

Kids drawing
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!

  • What’s happening here?
  • 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 holding washi tape painting
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!

Free Printable Guide: How to Talk to Kids About Art

How to Talk with Kids about their art printable

To help you remember these tips, I created a FREE printable for you.

Click to Get Your Copy Today!

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