Let’s continue our journey to a child’s inner world through his drawings. This section includes the following points in regard with drawing process:
- Common Myths
- Use of specific Colours
- House drawings
- Tree drawings
- Common Myths
This is an important step towards the journey, to dispel some common myths. Few myths are liable to cause unnecessary concern and sometimes give wrong impression about the child. As we all are aware that understanding and analyzing a child’s inner world through his/ her drawings does not rely upon a single indicator or factor. We must keep in mind several conditions like:
- We should analyze several drawings over a period of minimum six months and that too, in different contexts. In this way we can detect a long term behavioural trend.
- To reach to certain conclusions, we must understand that various indicators have to be cross-referred and follow their consistent appearance, as only one indicator is never enough to suggest a broad pattern of behavior or trend.
- Finally, we must talk to the caregivers or parents and family before reaching to the inference, because they are the most important partners in this process.
Myth # 1- A child is depressed if he uses black colour (False)
To some extent, children use different colours depending upon their mood but that’s not true always. Many children use black because that’s easily available. Also, they like to use black, because it creates a strong contrast against the white background of paper. Sometimes, a child has witnessed terrible living conditions that he/she depicts it through the choice of colours in his drawings.
Myth #2- Scribbles absolutely means Nothing (False)
We have already discussed various forms of scribbles in the first section. The difference of pressure applied, the intensity of scribbles, spiral or straight scribbles, filling the entire space or just a section of the page and shapes of the scribbles indicate a difference in every child’s temperament and character. Scribbles are the clear indication, to a large extent, to get through his inner world and judge a child’s behavior .
Myth # 3- a child has motor problem if he doesn’t like to draw (Partly True)
Fine Motor Skills are prerequisite for drawing, but not all children who don’t like to draw have a motor problem. Many children prefer gross motor activities like running, jumping, playing outside etc rather than preferring to draw. Another reason could be a past intervention experience which lead to an obstructed process of drawing. For example if a child is at scribbling stage and an adult has intervened and tried to make the child jump to an advanced stage of drawing, which could cause a trauma and disliking towards drawing in child’s mind and he/she could give up drawing altogether. Another reason could be adult’s expectations of orderliness and cleanliness while the child is drawing which could also lead to a disliking drawing in a natural and creative atmosphere.
Myth #4- Bars on a window and birds in the sky indicate distress (False)
Practitioners or professionals must be extremely careful while analyzing and jumping to the conclusions based on a single indicator or phenomenon of drawings. Identifying the indicators with distress is a very complex matter with grave consequences. The correlation of any kind of abuse or distress is not found in the studies when a child drew bars on windows or flying birds (except few mentally challenged and under treatment children).
Myth #5- The subject of drawings indicate a child’s inner feelings (False)
It is not necessarily important that a child reveals his inner feelings through his drawings. For example, A child drawing a monster after watching a TV show doesn’t imply his negative mental state, fear or distress.
To conclude, there must be several new myths cropping up time to time but a single factor should not be relied upon for reaching to the conclusions about a child’s mind.
- Use of Specific Colours
Children’s drawings are never culture-dependent. Some baseball lovers will not dare to wear a red shirt because they hate a particular team and its colour. But it’s entirely different in case of children. A child may choose to use black because it’s “the strongest colour” and also” erases” all other colours underneath it. The meanings of colours is diverse and multiple. Balanced use of a particular colour should be connected with strong and positive emotional qualities. Though excessive use of a certain colour could sometimes indicate negative emotional qualities.
There could be many other reasons for recurring use of the colours with younger children. It is recommended to check if that was the only crayon or paint left for a child after everyone else has picked other colours in the classroom. This might sound very simple but equally true that children draw with whatever is available with them unaware of the type of similar colour available repeatedly.
The other case might be, some teachers introduce every colour one by one to children and in this process, children are not exposed to a variety of colours to choose from. So, it may be the case that all children are given probably the same colour to use.
The location of drawing, is yet another factor to be considered before reaching to the conclusions about child’s drawings. You should check whether the child uses the different colours at home, at school or at grandparent’s house, and of course whether the choice of specific colour is a recurring phenomenon.
If the child continues to use the same colour over a prolonged period, try to offer him different colours. Now you can notice the reaction- He completely ignores the new colours of uses them? Or again, after using new colours he switches back to his favourite colour? Also notice the duration of use of a single colour.
Beyond the use of colours, we should always check the overall quality and style of the drawings made by children. When a child like a particular colour, we can elicit a certain meaning in the following way:
Red- Red colour has a strong presence in children’s drawing, despite of their age. It is one of the most favourite colour among both boys and girls. Red colour connotes energy and enthusiasm. Children who use this colour predominantly are usually extrovert, dominant and want to be the center of attraction. They are generally aggressive in nature. These children like challenges and like to be the winners.
Blue- This colour signifies peaceful and calm behaviour. The children who use more blue have harmonious social relationships. Their communication is generally peaceful and calm. They expect a rational and logical reply. They seem to have a rich inner world and it is important for them to express their wishes and desires.
Green– This is a favourite colour among nature lovers and who like outdoor and animals. These children are quick learners and have a fresh outlook for different situations. They also need freedom and space. But, at the same time, excessive use of this colour may indicate compensation for a child’s need to learn and start afresh and blossom.
Yellow- just like Red, yellow also appears in caution and danger signs. Yellow is also associated with jaundice, cowardice and ageing for both, people and objects. When a child uses yellow in his drawings, it symbolizes sensitivity. They are well aware of their surroundings and are also deeply influenced by them. They are clever, patient, joyful and mischievous like the children who use red. In addition to this, they are stable and well connected with their inner world and their families and they don’t need many relations outside their closed circle. They take right precautions along with high concentration ability. But, at the same time, excessive use of yellow connotes oversensitivity which makes it difficult for a child to adjust outside his closed circle. It also represents naivety, innocence and empathy with other people’s pain.
- House Drawings
Home or house pictures are one of the most common subjects in child’s drawings. This house could be in the center or in the corner of the drawing. If you closely notice, various parts of the house represent the degree of attachment to the place and its members and the degree of confidence portrayed by the child and his family members. We are all aware of the classic drawing of the house with a square and a triangle on its top with the sun in on corner of the sky and some birds. Sometimes a river or trees are also shown in the drawings. But when you mention “house” or “home” the emotionally charged meaning of the place changes in the drawings. The child might use a drawing to represent a relocation of the place, or he might be working through the family issues in his drawings, or he might also working through the issues related with his immediate environment.
The door- The door has many meanings in child’s drawings but mainly it shows the entrance; to the house and also to his inner world. It represents the openness and emotional accessibility to a dialogue with others: how open is he at this moment? How much emotionally available he is? What defense mechanism is he going to use to avoid exposure? And what is the best way to hold an emotional dialogue with him? Often, family interventions and counseling can change the scenario with time and it affects the degree of openness to dialogue in certain ways.
- Tree drawings-
Not only to a child, but when you tell even an adult to draw a tree, many things are analyzed boldly through his drawing of trees. You can unlock the meaning like; the roots represent the past and the person’s relationship with family members, the trunk symbolizes person’s personality and ability to stand through the difficulties of life, the top section indicates various life activities of his life.
When analyzing the tree drawing, you can also look for the size and ratio of its parts, which are trunk and the top. For example the open branches and the way they spread shows the openness and variety in life but when the boundaries are closed then it shows that his life is restricted to a certain level and the person is more structured and organized. In the same way, professionals analyze the personality of children through tree drawings.
In this way we have seen that how child’s life and the events related with them influence his/ her drawings and how the professionals or caregivers can help the child in a positive way.