Kids everywhere love drawing self-portraits of themselves – not only their clothes, face, and hair but all the aspects of their lives and personalities – but have you ever stopped to wonder why? Well, it turns out there are a few reasons why, but it all boils down to the fact that the practice is super beneficial.
According to an article on The School Run, self-portraiture is “one of the most introspective art forms” as it allows children to express what’s important to them, helps them learn about who they are, and gives them ideas about how they present themselves to the world.
NYC family therapist Dr. Kathryn Smerling agrees, telling Romper that “very often children’s self-portraits are an indicator about how the children feel about themselves. Often accompanied by a self-portrait is a one-lined descriptor that the child can dictate to an adult. It can help the child stand back and reflect upon who they are. It is a key part of learning and personal development.”
Kids also enjoy the project because they have a ton of freedom – the materials, the style, the contents – which young children so rarely get to experience.
It also gives them a chance to really study themselves, to get comfortable with what they see, and to begin to highlight what makes them unique.
“A self-portrait gives children the time to study their eyes, nose, mouth, and the rest of their face and body, and to work out how it all fits together – perfect for teaching children how to draw basic body shapes.”
Basically, they’re exploring their “me-ness,” and “developing their observational, expressive, and reflective skills.” Dr. Smerling adds that it could be “interesting to have the child do a self-portrait year by year to see the child’s developing sense of self each year.”
You can also ask your child to draw themselves doing what they want to do in the future, or inside a particular environment if you’re wanting to dig into a particular aspect of their personality or life.
Basically, parents and teachers alike can use the exercise to not only get to know your child better without them ever realizing what is happening but to engage your kid in an experience they’ll enjoy in the process.