What Do Violent Kids' Drawings Mean?

Children are naturally interested in art. It's a fun, easy mode of self-expression and an excellent form of creative play. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, drawing brings a child's personal emotions to the surface in ways that she may not be able to express using words. Although it isn't always a cause for concern, when a child creates violent drawings she may be trying to communicate something that is bothering her.

Your Child's Age

Violent drawings may mean different things depending on your child's age. While it may be normal for teenagers to draw violent-themed artwork as part of a goth or vampire phase, it's far more unusual for a young child to create violent drawings, according to the Encyclopedia of Children's Health. Before the age of 9, children typically draw what they see in their environment: friends, family, pets and objects around the house -- so if your young child is creating violent images, consider where he might be seeing these violent images.

Interpreting Your Child's Drawing

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According to the AACAP, a young child's drawing is likely to represent his mood at that exact moment, so pay attention to your child's surroundings. The best way to understand the meaning behind your child's drawing is to make an open-ended statement, like "Tell me a story about your drawing." Don't put too much stock into color choices -- although adults may perceive red scribbles as anger or violence, young children choose colors somewhat haphazardly.

Violent Influences

Consider how much violence your child is exposed to on a regular basis. If he sees violence on TV, in movies, in his neighborhood, at a friend's house or in your home, he may be creating violent drawings in order to process something he doesn't understand. The Encyclopedia of Children's Health says drawing images of bad things they've seen helps children distance themselves from violence and observe it as if it was happening to someone else.

When to Seek Help

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While one violent drawing may be nothing to worry about, you may need to visit a therapist if your child is constantly drawing violent images. According to the Encyclopedia of Children's Health, a child may be suffering from emotional problems if she draws one person much larger than herself, as this sometimes indicates an aggressive or scary person; if she portrays a dismembered body or frequently uses incomplete or hesitant lines. A therapist skilled in working with children can help you determine if your child is suffering. If an older child is frequently drawing violent images and seems to have withdrawn, become depressed or is failing in school, she may also need to be assessed by a therapist.