Painting with my daughter gave me a great example of how, as a parent, my best intentions are not always what she needs.
In this case it was the idea that I had that she might like to paint a house on a blank piece of paper. I was thinking to myself that I wouldn’t try and influence or force her to draw any particular kind of house, instead I would let her draw whatever kind of house she liked. Maybe it’d be a rabbit’s house or her granny’s house or maybe something completely different.
What actually happened was quite a surprise and a fantastic learning opportunity for me.
Of course you could argue that “a house” is perhaps a too open question for a child… Maybe asking what Mr Rabbit’s house looks like would have been better (it isn’t – I’ve tried it). Looking at the reams of drawings and paper that are nothing but different coloured swirls where she’s just gone round and round and round where I’ve not had a hand in helping her direct her imagination, I can’t help but compare them to how much more enjoyment she gets and the (relatively) well shaped art work that she and I have done together where I’ve helped her with an outline of what to do (I’ll add a photo of my favourite piece soon).
It seems that while I might like to think that by keeping out and letting her explore the world in her own way would be good, it actually turns out that a bit of gentle guidance is essential. No wonder our kids (nearly) always turn out like their parents…