"At times discussion is important but there are many times when it's not necessary. Just letting your child play with art can be soothing in itself. Every single picture does not necessarily require a discussion and explanation. Creating the art is important in itself and doesn't necessarily need an adult to monitor, question, or direct it."
Jane Katch, M.S.T.
Kindergarten Teacher, Touchstone Community School, Grafton, Massachusetts. Author, Under Deadman's Skin: Discovering the Meaning of Children's Violent Play.
When the news is filled with images of violence, hurricanes and wars, experts recommend you make simple art materials, such as crayons, markers and play dough freely available at home — as children frequently work out their reactions in their art. The following pointers may help you discuss your child's pictures of war and violence or other items in the news, and help your child work through feelings in meaningful ways.
Ask specific questions. When a child finishes a drawing, you might say, "Tell me about your picture." Comment without correcting. Let your child decide what the picture is about, rather than interpreting it for her. Point out specifics and comment on them. Rather than saying, "I like your picture," you might say, "I can see you worked hard to draw that airplane. Where is it flying?"
Write a story. Offer to write down your child's story about the picture. Or ask your child to write it herself, if she is able.
Talk about scary things. If violent scenes show up in your child's art projects, talk about them together. Ask your child what he has created, clear up any confusion, and remind your child that you will keep him safe. For example, if your child has drawn a picture of a tornado or hurricane with homes being destroyed, you might say, "Yes, people can get hurt by hurricanes, that's why the weather reporters tell us where hurricanes will be, but there's never been a hurricane like that here."
Help your child find solutions. Help your child come up with ideas for what she could draw to make the situation less scary or to help the characters resolve a conflict. "You might say, 'Is there anything the characters in the picture could do to help each other?'" suggests Diane Levin, Ph.D.