For a child, drawing is, in addition to a means of recreation, also a mode of communication. Before starting psychotherapy, or in case a child faces problems in school, a psychologist will use drawing in order to understand what is going on.
Throughout the treatment, the psychologist collects drawings by the child to get a clear idea of the child's state of mind and, at the same time, ensure that psychotherapy is having the desired effect.
Evolution of children's drawing
Around the age of 18 months, a child begins to take interest in making pencil strokes. Scribbling usually starts with making circular shapes. In the beginning, their drawings are devoid of meaning.
Only strokes that are made at a given moment, through even a slight resemblance to reality, are meaningful for a child. If you ask the child what he drew, he can tell you that it was a plane, but it could change to a table or even a cracker later.
Sometimes strokes do not represent anything in particular, so he will give you an interpretation that is most relevant at that moment. Around the age of two or three, children begin to draw vertical, horizontal and parallel lines.
At this stage, their designs are intended to be realistic, but can't be for both physical and mental reasons (The child has little or no control over his movements and his attention span is very limited).
What is most difficult to understand in children's drawings is the proportions. It is common to see designs that have only arms, or hair that is longer than the legs. Strange little figures may come up, with the legs to the side of the body, or the eyes shifted. Children often fail to take into account the elements of each drawing.
Between the ages of three and six, drawings are very different from those of an adult. For a child, a realistic drawing is one that contains all the elements he associates with an object. Houses often have transparent walls, with the furniture and occupants visible.
Human figures are often mixed up. For example, the head, arms, bodies and legs may be drawn differently. Adult observations on drawings can often be counterproductive, as they will impair spontaneity.
If you say that a profile picture drawn by a child is not appropriate because it features both eyes, for example, he may not like it. The different perspective of a child must be appreciated and is a way of encouraging creativity.
Around the age of seven, a child begins to criticise and seek feedback for his own drawings. This stage begins gradually and is not without setbacks. At this age, he can make drawings that are intellectually and visually realistic. Around the age of 12, the intellectual realism is perfectly honed.
Symbols in drawings
In dreams, symbols become meaningful when they are related to personal associations. Drawings also gain meaning in the same manner.
One of the best-known symbols is the sun, often associated with a father figure. The moon is a classic example of a female symbol. Containers and other objects such as jugs, jars, boxes and pockets are distinctly feminine symbols.
Water is commonly associated with life. Colours are associated with different feelings. For example, red is the most emotional colour and is associated with aggression, destruction and sexual awareness.
Blue, being a cool colour, is symbolically associated with depressive feelings. The same goes for the colour black. Yellow symbolises joy, strength and vitality.