A Hole In The Ground
The last image was drawn by a 7-year- old girl who'd recently gone with her parents and younger brother to her grandfather's funeral. I was impressed with several aspects of her picture, including her ability to visually distinguish the adults from the kids and to draw faces that reveal sadness. She drew herself and her father in profile, which may indicate that she and her father have a strong bond. It was encouraging that she drew everyone close together, and touching; this shows she perceived her family as tight-knit in this sad moment in their lives.
The Soccer Match
This top drawing is terrific: It shows a family enjoying a sport together. When the 9-year-old boy who drew it was asked to describe the image, he answered, "We're playing soccer. Dad said to pass, so I passed to him, and then he passed to Mom, and Mom passed to my little brother. And he scored!" The boy's description of his picture reveals his active engagement with other members of his family. I notice that his mom is drawn as the biggest person in the family, and while that might not be significant, I could use the opportunity to say, "You drew your mom as the largest person in the picture. Is she the leader of the family team?"
A View from Above
The 7-year-old boy who drew this last picture says it's "all of us playing Sorry." I immediately noticed that he drew his family from the perspective of someone looking down at their game table. This suggests he's got strong visual-spatial skills; children like this are often artistic and particularly good at puzzles and games. This family is engaged in playing together at home, which reveals a positive relationship among them. Since he drew his parents and younger sister around the sides and bottom of the board and himself at the very top, I might point to that and comment, "Great drawing -- you sure are the strong one in the family," and wait for his response. I'd start there because he depicts himself in a way that indicates a well-developed sense of identity.
Originally published in the October 2012 issue of Parents magazine.