When in doubt, say it with a pen

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[18 months on]

All children will understand what you say better when they see it.  As with signs for little ones, simple drawings can help your child to REALLY understand.  And anyone can draw stick figures!  Your child may end up drawing for you.

Drawings might be to:

  • show your child what is expected for the appropriate behaviour (eg. we use gentle hands, when do we kiss someone)
  • explain what might happen (eg. going to the doctor)
  • talk about what did happen (eg. what happened with a fight at school)
  • list what will happen (eg. activities to be done in the day)

Some of the benefits of drawing:

  • the child is more willing to talk about tricky topics as they tend to get caught up in the details of the drawing.
  • you can really get to the bottom of things (discovering who did what, what was said, how your child felt)
  • you can help them to see how others felt and take a view point of someone else.
  • you can really get your own points through to your child by making it concrete, through drawing.
  • it takes away the need for a lot of language – kids who have trouble putting thoughts into words or sequencing events can have it ‘scaffolded’ by drawing step by step, with your guiding questions.
  • removes the need for eye contact.  Boys especially find it easier to have a conversation side by side rather than facing eachother.  The paper gives you both a place to focus.
  • you can come back to it again and again which is much easier than using just words.  But once you have drawn it, it can also be easier to use words to say ‘remember when we drew about Alex’s feelings?’..
  • when your child contributes, it helps their brain to remember and to really understand.  YOU can be sure they understand…by them contributing…a lot more sure than when you just tell them.

The drawing can take any format.  ‘Comic strips’ are ideal for many of the above which allows you to talk about things step by step, in boxes.  This allows you time to talk whilst you draw or time for your child to sequence what happened when.  But a drawing using symbols and stick figures, however you see fit, will surely help your child.  Watch for more posts on different examples of drawings.

This is how I usually do it.

1. I have a quick think about how I will approach the subject (ie. tackle it in a way that is certain my child will understand) and what I will draw.  I grab a pen and paper.  Generally I have a notepad handy that all of the drawings accumulate in!

2. Announce to my child, ‘I want to do a drawing with you’.  Get comfy.

3. Give the drawing a title or tell my child what we are going to draw about.  For example, ‘remember when you ripped your book before? I want to talk to you about it more’.

4. Start drawing!  Remember to talk while you are drawing (‘this is you and this is Johnny’, ‘here is Mummy, I wonder what she thought’, ‘that’s the other kids over there’).  The more you talk, the less details you have to put in (eg. ‘the other kids’ might be a quick scribble).

Things to include in your drawings:

  • People – signal a person with a feature such as hair or dress or an initial letter if your child is up to that
  • Talk bubbles – a normal speech bubble
  • Think bubbles – signalled with the 2 little bubbles leading to the bigger one
  • Colour – this is definitely not necessary but when you have the time and feel it might really help, they can be really powerful (eg. getting your child to choose a colour for how they felt and talk further about emotions, using red to stand out)

The most important part

Get your child involved as much as possible.  They should be the story teller, you are just guiding them by asking questions and doing the drawing.  For example:

  • Do you remember what happened next?  What did you do next?
  • When mummy came in, how do you think she felt?
  • How did you feel?  What did you say?

A drawing should never be negative – only a chance to point out what a child could do differently next time or to bring to their attention how other people felt…

The more you do this and the older the child gets, you can start to let them take the pen and do the talking.  You will be surprised as to what they will reveal!  They may need their own notepad or even a little whiteboard.

Here is a list of other I raise my kids’ posts that show how you can use drawings to communicate with your child..

Introductions to my new teacher

Saying it with a pen – appropriate greetings

Saying it with a pen – coping with disappointment

Saying it with a pen – starting school

Saying it with a pen – rules for a big brother

Turn-taking rules

What drawing could you do with your little one?

🙂 Heidi

This entry was posted in Behaviour management and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , by heidelightful. Bookmark the permalink.

About heidelightful

Hello friend! I am a paediatric speech pathologist and health coach. My vision is to create a world where parents can understand the real link between diet and their child's health and behaviour, and know how to create true health for their family. My two young, wonderful and sensitive sons both have food intolerances and have also taught me about my own, that I have never known about until now! Topics I have looked into for my own family's health and also from my role as a speech pathologist with children with picky eating are food intolerances, fussy eaters, creating healthy eaters and eating to prevent and ‘cure’ childhood issues such as ADHD, autism, eczema/skin issues, trouble sleeping, low immunity, frequent snot/ear infections and bedwetting, to name a few. I write many posts coming from being an exhausted mum trying to keep up with fussy boys who can only eat certain foods and also as a professional who has worked with other children with similar issues. I live on the Sunshine Coast in Australia with my husband and two boys and was previously an exchange student in Brazil! I hope to inspire you to help your child achieve their potential through health and well-being. Thanks for stopping by :) Heidi

6 thoughts on “When in doubt, say it with a pen

  1. Pingback: Saying it with a pen – coping with disappointment | i raise my kids

  2. Pingback: Shut UPPPP!! | i raise my kids

  3. Pingback: You’re going to be a big brother! What do I say next? | I raise my kids

  4. Pingback: You’re going to be a big sister! Now here’s what’s going to change… | I raise my kids

  5. Pingback: Turn-taking rules | I raise my kids

  6. Pingback: Saying it with a pen – starting school | I raise my kids

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