A new study has uncovered some interesting findings about all those adorable kid drawings you have covering the kitchen fridge, and some of them may surprise you.
According to researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill, by the time kids reach six years old, their doodles, scribbles and drawings mean much more than ever before. After all, this is the age when kids start to regularly depict the "real world" in their drawings, and often insert images of themselves, or their friends and family, into the scenes they draw—so what they're doing in these images and what they look like matters. In fact, researchers say that the six-year mark is the perfect time to analyze drawings for any psychological or emotional stresses. Before six, kids aren't really sure what they're even doing with that crayon they're wielding; afterwards, they're most likely influenced by outside images of what the ideal family should look like, and not so much drawing from their own perspective.
In this latest study, researchers sat kids down for 10 minutes with just a blank sheet of paper and a few markers, and asked them to draw a picture of their family. Beyond that, there was no coaching and no instructions.
In the end, researchers found that in cases where kids had a chaotic home life, including a lack of structure, excessive noise and clutter, were more likely to draw themselves standing at a distance from their parents in family photos. They also tended to draw themselves as much smaller than the other figures in the portrait. In some of these cases, kids even gave themselves droopy arms and sad or indifference facial expressions to match.