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Some of our research has shown that we should not use what children draw to predict their intellectual ability or psychological functioning. But can we use drawing as a tool to help children talk about their experiences?

To examine this question, we asked children and younger and older adolescents to draw-and-tell, or simply tell, us about four personal, emotional experiences (times when they felt happy, angry, proud/confident, and worried/nervous). Compared to telling, the opportunity to draw helped children and younger adolescents to report more information about all four emotional experiences.

Drawing also helped the older adolescents to report more information about some experiences (happy and worried/nervous), but there was no difference in the amount of information that they reported when drawing and telling, or telling, about other experiences (proud and angry). The present research shows that drawing is a useful tool to help children, and potentially adolescents, to talk about a wide range of emotional experiences.

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Elaine Reese's Lab Elmo

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