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What if Your Child Wants YOU to Draw for THEM?

by Jean Van't Hul
February 9, 2008

Several of you have asked me how to respond when your toddler or preschooler asks you to draw something specific for them, such as trucks or trains or circles. I have been stumped about this myself. Maia sometimes asks us to draw specific things as well, although more usually she asks us to write the names of family and friends, and we usually do on request but have wondered if we were doing the right thing.

So I asked Susan Striker for her suggestions.

JEAN: Hi Susan, several parents have asked me how they should respond when their toddlers ask them to draw something specific for them. One mother said that her 20 month old drew an approximate circle, called it a circle, then asked her to draw a circle too. The mother said she was confused as to how she should respond.

Another mother said that her almost-3-year-old son frequently asked her and her husband to draw firetrucks, and she also said that she wasn't sure how to respond, especially after reading your interview.

Is this something you could answer for me and for my readers?

SUSAN: I tell parents NEVER to entertain their children by drawing for them. Best to say "let's both draw" and to let loose and scribble.

Maybe with a red crayon while making a siren sound. The lines of the scribble could be the route the truck is taking to the next fire. Say things like "hurry up, we have to get to the fire" and "Now let's go around the other way"…all the time scribbling.

Hand your child a crayon and say "you have to help get the truck to the fire" and as soon as you can, stop scribbling yourself and let the child take over.

For the circle problem, I would simply say, yes, that is round like a circle. If I absolutely could not get the child to stop the requests, I would take the crayon and scribble, going round and round in circular motions. Good time to talk about all the things we know that are round. Maybe while this is going on, sing "Ring around the rosy."

Thanks, Susan, for the ideas and for being a wonderful resource for us! For more information about Susan or her books, see www.susanstriker.com.

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