Image Source - Rivage from Unsplash
Picture of Virginia Wells

Virginia Wells

Managing the Influx of Your Child’s Prolific Artwork 

Do you have a budding artist at home, constantly churning out an abundance of artistic creations and box constructions? It can be a challenge managing the influx of your child’s prolific artwork without feeling overwhelmed or guilty. (Because you toss them out while they’re not looking). Here’s a practical guide to help you strike a balance between cherishing your child’s artistic endeavours and maintaining a clutter-free space. 

There are some key areas to focus on first. Firstly, have somewhere to capture the inflow of artworks. This can be as simple as an in-tray for artwork, and a small box for construction. In an ideal world (where you have all the time and energy in the world to do so), you would get them in a display area straight away and have meaningful conversations with your kid(s) about what they value most out of the new artworks, and the ones already on display and collected. 

Let’s imagine that you’ve set up a spot for incoming artworks, and now you’re wondering what next? 

Designated Display Areas for Craft Constructions and Paper-Based Art 

Start by creating specific places to showcase your child’s artwork. This not only provides a dedicated space but also sets limits on the quantity of items allowed out and on display at any given time. This helps you maintain an organised and clutter-free environment. 

For box constructions, or bulky art projects like dioramas, the giant box car or a cereal box alien, you could dedicate a shelf in the living area or their bedroom to display these. They may be the dining table centre piece for the week.  

For drawings and paintings, create a display spot just like we suggested for the craft construction. This could be the front of the fridge, a string along a wall with pegs, or a designated wall with blue-tacked artwork. To take the pressure off you making all the decisions of what comes down from the display, and what new pieces go up, engage in regular conversations with your child about the allocated display space. This strengthens their ability to make decisions. It helps them understand their values, and reinforces their understanding of space and its limits. It also brings in the concept of leaving room for new things to enter their lives.  

Limit Setting for Display Areas 

When it comes to display areas (and the memory box, for those items that have come down and are deemed keepsakes), it’s important to establish clear limits. Whether it’s a specific space limit or a set number of artworks. For instance, if the fridge can accommodate six pictures, make the number limit six for pictures. You may dedicate a shelf for bulky craft construction, or maybe it’s just one out at a time.  This encourages your child to reconnect to their values of which creations they’re currently most proud of (and impressed by). It also is teaching and reinforcing the lesson of space, and its limitations.

It’s much easier to set these limits when they’re really young, but if you’re new to this, and your kids are a bit older, and have some habits already, then this will be a bit of a process. Keep at it, the effort pays off. These conversations about setting limits will flow over other areas in their life and set them up to make these decisions on their own in the future. 

Involving Kids in Decision-Making  

Empower your children by involving them in the decision-making process. Let them choose what goes up on display and what comes down. This not only builds their sense of ownership but also teaches them to discern what holds special significance for them. 

It’s a great idea to encourage your child to put their artwork on display instead of you taking charge. This creates a sense of ownership of the task (giving them responsibilities) and makes them more accountable for managing their creations as they come off the display. 

A Teaching Opportunity – A Process, and Decision-Making Skills 

Part of the process has been mentioned already, and you’re probably able to tell that engaging with your child during these times is important. Consider it a valuable teaching opportunity. Getting them involved in the decision making of what stays and goes, where to display them, and how much should be displayed or kept, are all valuable skills to learn.  Therefore, it can be helpful to implement a weekly or monthly review session with your child to sift through the displayed artwork (or those in the in-tray).  

Often, children draw similar themes, one month it’s pictures of your family, the next it’s a unicorn riding a jet ski. Help your child learn how to discriminate what is most important to them. I’m working off the definition of discrimination to be ‘recognise a distinction or differentiate’. So, with their artwork, you’re teaching them to identify which artworks are precious. 

The Value of Regular Review Conversations

These regular review conversations help you to teach them about what they value. Their values may differ to yours, so you can choose standout pieces together. You may have a little stash for your memory box, and the rest go in their memory box. As you go through this task together, set a reasonable limit of what can be kept. Perhaps the best 3 of the 40 unicorn pictures. This approach ensures that you retain only the most cherished creations. Avoiding an overload of similar themes or variations. Over time, they may review their three unicorns and reduce it down to one, but right now, they really value them. 

Navigating Values and Space

If your child wants to keep all of it, then they may value their artwork over other things. That’s ok. This is where a conversation about values and space opens up. You’d talk about how much space you have in the house. How much space is dedicated to each person, and how keeping 10 boxes of artwork is taking up quite a lot of space. You might reflect on how often they look at the artwork. It’s important to try to be as open and exploratory with your chats about this stuff, so you can understand their motivation and desires. It helps you, help them develop important skills on decision making. 

If I were in a session with a child, I’d say something like “I can see you really value your artwork and want to keep it all. It needs somewhere to live in your house, but at the moment it’s taking up all of your space. Is there something you like less that can get let go of?” Often, they say yes. Explore their answers. If they’re unable to let go of anything right now, you may need to give them extra time to think about it. Then come back to the decision later. Discuss a time to revisit the conversation. Often, just like for us, as time passes, these things lose their value. 

Handling Time Constraints and Emotional Reactions

You might be thinking, “Are you kidding? I don’t have time for that Virginia”. As I often say, these conversations are for that ‘ideal world’. One where we have all the time and energy to do so. I won’t lie, initially these conversations can tough, and hard to navigate. Be aware of your own values and what you’re pushing. Sometimes we’re speaking to them from our point of view. Trying to convince them to meet our needs (more space, less stuff). Speaking openly, and exploring it like a team, can often release some of the defensiveness that we all get on being forced to do something. Your child will feel like they have a choice, and a voice and may be freed up to make decisions.  

Over time, these conversations usually get easier, and they know what they value, and they understand the process.  If it ends up in tears each time, then you may need to engage a psychologist or counsellor to help them with their attachment to belongings.  

To summarise this point, regularly review the artworks with your child and have meaningful conversations with them to teach them the importance of decision making, space and more. 

Parting with artwork 

Once you have a home of artworks on display and a process for the incoming art, then you may need an exit strategy too. You may find yourself talking about letting go of artwork. When it’s time to part with artwork you may need to get creative in ways to have them move on from their pieces of art. You could suggest options like recycling, sending it to friends or family, or gifting it to others. You could reuse some in other craft projects (cutting paintings into shapes to stick onto something else or use them as wrapping paper. This helps your child understand the joy of giving, reusing and recycling. 

Image Credit: Virginia Wells

Personal Spaces and Memory Boxes 

If your child insists on keeping certain pieces, designate a limited space in their bedroom or provide a memory/sentimental box. This sets the stage for future discussions about space limits and encourages them to reflect on what truly matters to them over time. 

Managing your child’s prolific artwork is not just about organisation; it’s an opportunity for some valuable life lessons. Through thoughtful conversations, selective display, and responsible ownership, you and your child can navigate the balance between cherishing creativity and maintaining a clutter-free living space together. These practices not only instil good future habits but also provide both of you with a chance to choose what holds true value and importance in your lives. 

Phew! That was a long post, if you got this far, well done. You can see, there is a lot to consider when helping your child (and you) with this artwork. Over time this be second nature, and your kids will do it on their own.  

Share your stories the on the WellSorted Group Facebook Page

Share this post

Scroll to Top