What Is It? Why you should NEVER ask

Most often, children who make things, especially pictures, collages, block or rock or other structures, have no idea before-hand about a finished product.  They just make things.  Sometimes, after they are finished, they look at it and notice it looks like something.  One of my children made a sort of rectangle, looked at it for a while, and said, “Look, Mommy!  I made the refrigerator!”  He said it with surprise and pride at the same time.

Either they know what they made or they don’t. If they don’t, the question makes them think you want an answer, so many children will often say something to please you.  This is starting them on the slippery slope to lying. Yes, lying. Because making words up is lying.

If they do know what they made, the question can lead to thoughts of:

  • I’m not such a good artist (builder, etc.) or you would be able to see what I made.
  • You aren’t paying attention, just asking a question and not really looking at my work.

None of these answers are encouraging of the child or respectful of her feelings.  What can you say?

  • Please tell me more about this.
  • If it’s a picture – I see some colors – a lot of ___.
  • If it’s a structure – I see bigger pieces and smaller ones.

The idea is to notice something about it, and tell something about what you see without labeling it.  This shows the child that you look and see the work and that you are paying attention. This counts!