Obsession with Drawing

Updated on November 27, 2011
R.M. asks from Evanston, IL
28 answers

My 6 year old daughter seems to be obsessed with drawing. She probably draws about 15 or more pictures a day when we are home all day. They are usually pics of a combination of people in our family, or fairies, flowers etc... I wouldn't think anything of it but she was exhibiting some OCD type symptoms last year so I was just wondering if this constant drawing is normal. I told her once "ok no more drawing for today" because we were low on paper and she literally started crying. Does anyone else's child this age draw this frequently?

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answers from Dallas on

Don't stop her. It's a passion. And if you can actually recognize what she's drawing, she may have a budding talent. Christmas is approaching, so I'd ask for paper - even get a $20 box of office paper from Costco (would be about 5000 sheet). Let the family know about her love of drawing and ask for supplies for Christmas.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My 7 year old son is just like this. He even takes paper and pencil with him in the car. I wouldn't worry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

my daughter could spend the entire day being creative whether it is drawing or coloring or painting. We even went on a cruise and when she went to the youth center she was on the computer the ENTIRE time creating her own fairies. She made 25! They were all different and had their own names. If it is something she is good at she probably wants to do it more. Help her establish her own boundaries and at least do some other activities too. Either how much time she gets to do Art in a day or how many pieces max she gets to create. i know in school kids often do not get to do much art so maybe she really wants to take advantage of the time afterward.

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answers from Detroit on

Sounds just like my dd!! There are drawings hanging all over our house. She started drawing before she could speak in complete sentences. It is her way of processing information. Her drawings are extremely detailed, showing she has a good eye while observing. This is how your child is learning about the world around her. She can think in 3D and has good spatial development. People who draw tend to be creative and smart.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Visalia on

I havent read the other posts, so hope my response is fresh.

My oldest daughter as a little child sounds like yours. paper everywhere, crumbled or neat, under bed, closets. no paper? no problem, she drew on her dresser, closet doors and one time scratched drew on my car hood!! of course we got after her for that. but i really didnt stop her artistic juices. bought her chalk for side walks and other areas, easy to clean off. relatives always bought her paper for b-days and x-mas. naturaly she would join all art classes at school.

Today she draws pencil/chalk portraits in such accuracy everyone jaw drops. she did go to Art Institute of LA. and does paintings now. In restaurants she will draw on the napkin of who ever shes with and they keep for mementos, lol. she will draw on any piece of paper still. she paints little figures in kids faces at events.

Have ur daughter sign and date every piece of art, even if it looks like blobs, just never kno.

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answers from El Paso on

O please dnt stop her. I loved to draw and paint and sketch and it was such a great outlet and I would de stress I loved drawing anything and everything

And now my daughter who is 21 months draws everyday :) it's fun!
I would never think art is bad plz encourage her an support her
Like others have said teach her to draw on both side :)


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Yes, my son has done this for about 4 years at least, he is 9 now. He spends literally hours sitting at a table drawing. He doesn't stop at one, he draws whole books, like cartoon strips with dialogue.
I could probably fill his whole room with the books upon books of drawing pads he has filled.
I think let her at it!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You know, practically every one of us has SOME OCD traits, and artists seem to have more than most! Don't freak out about OCD traits. Every child gets obsessed with something or has to have things a certain way. My daughter has to have both closet doors shut and the light has to be off and her stuffed animals have to be in a certain position or she can't sleep. OCD? No, I asked her once and she is still afraid of the Monster In The Closet. Shutting the door tight and arranging her stuffed animals as "guards" makes her feel safe.

Lots of baseball players have "rituals" they do before the game or some kind of lucky charm. They are not OCD! Don't confuse OCD with being a NORMAL human being with creative rituals or tendencies.

And let your daughter draw! My daughter would draw 15 pictures a day if we let her. She has lots of drawing notebooks, she will even draw on lined paper.

When it's time to stop because she has to do something else, tell her to save her idea for later. You could even mime taking the idea from her head and putting it in her "pocket." 6-year olds like that, and it's a fun way to make a transition to another activity.

Congrats on your budding artist! Perhaps one day she will be famous and when they interview you, you will say "Yes, I knew she was going to be an artist because when she was 6 years old she drew 15 or more pictures a day and cried when I told her to stop!"

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I drew constantly as a child...it is what I loved to do and I felt like I was good at it. I think about it now and it must have been funny to my M. to see the things I drew. I would go for a year totally obsessed with drawing fairies. Then I'd be completely obsessed with some other subject. In high school I doodled people all the time...faces and bodies. You should not worry so much but you should make sure she takes some good art lessons off and on her whole childhood. I wish my parents had done this - serious art lessons where you learn different techniques. Anyway - today I am a Biologist but I also still create art and sell it in a gallery. It gives me great happiness! :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Ha! Our daughter has always been this way and now she is a Senior in College as a Studio Arts Major, it will be one of her degrees. In High School she was in a Fine Arts Program for Graphic Arts.

And yes, she drew as long as she could every day. Fairies, dragons and moving dancing bunnies. She practiced these designs over and over, covering pages and pages of paper. We always had pads of drawing paper, she had an easel. A tool box full of paints, a drawer full of pencils.

We gave them as gifts, we had t-shirts printed with her art work, I made stationary for her with her artwork on the front.

Our daughter is also a Psychology major and has realized she does have some OCD traits, but they do not interfere with her everyday life.

She has to touch textures (but lightly) and then can move on.. And she has to have her hands clean or sanitized the moment she is finished with a project or has shaken hands or touched something, She is pretty subtle about it,.

Embrace it. Our daughter had a great focus, patience and determination. It has gotten her very far indeed.

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answers from Sacramento on

My daughter has been drawing since she was 2 years old. She absolutely loves it, and as with anything that someone works so hard at she's very good at it. We've always encouraged her without pressure.

What kind of OCD symptoms is she exhibiting? Or are you just worried about the time spent on drawing? My daughter will often choose something that she likes to draw and then draw it over and over again. She did it with tigers, Disney Princesses, people, cats, characters. We would have a hundred pictures of, what looked like, the same pictures drawn again and again. But she was unsatisfied with some aspect of it and so needed to draw it over and over until she got it " right." The other thing noticed was that she would draw as an outlet. If she felt stressed or overwhelmed she drew as much as when she was bored. And that piece was important to me. I feel like if she never does anything with her art in terms of a career, it's an outlet that she'll always have.

One day we went to the store and she saw a logo that she liked. She couldn't wait to get home and draw it. She does this with movies too. When I asked her about it, she says she looks at the picture and sees it in her mind and then can draw it. I think it's a gift.

Our daughter would most definitely cry if we told her she couldn't draw. It's just a part of her. I haven't ever worried because she does have different interests and it's not something that interferes with her every day life or social behavior. And it's a great way for us to bond together too. She has moved way beyond being dazzled by my stick figure drawings, but she LOVES when I sit down with just her to color or draw. It's the time with me doing something that she loves that makes her happy.

If I were you I would let her do it. Give her the tools she needs to encourage her. Teach her to use both sides of the paper and keep her things organized, clean up her work and recycle. Giver her different mediums to work with... tracing paper, pastels on black construction paper, fine tipped markers. colored pencils. Let her do what naturally comes to her, vs buying "drawing books" that teach her to draw with a grid and limit her natural tendencies.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

My cousin used to do that.
My late Dad used to do that.
ALL... highly intelligent and creative and talented, and successful, people.
I also used to do that.
I also later majored in fine arts and other things.
My daughter, has gone through spurts of that too.

You should 'let' your daughter do that.
Do not stop or hinder her proclivities in this case, because there is no harm in it.

Just recycle paper. Teach her how to use the other side of the paper.
That is what my parents did with me... and what I do with my kids.
We also have a friend that brings my kids, her non-essential office paper that was already printed on. And my kids just draw on the bare side of the paper.
Its fine.

Just get your daughter more paper or she can draw on something else.
Maybe enroll her in art classes.
She has a real interest here.... and talent.
Don't just attribute things to OCD or disregard it because of that. Do not disregard things about her that she does, JUST because of OCD.
Otherwise, real neat gems and talents in her, will be disregarded too.
See her... as her.
Do not see her... as "OCD."

Has she actually been formally diagnosed that she is OCD?
If not, then don't assume she is.
Because, developmentally per age stage and age juncture, many kids do go through periods of high organization tendencies or habits or sequencing. And this is, normal.

Encourage your daughter.
Do not teach her to doubt herself... because of how outsiders judge her.

Please, do not teach your child, that drawing is "bad" nor that she has to cry about it.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

If this is what she likes to do it's great!! She is using her creativity and not zoned out behind some video game. At that age for my daughter it was dance and figure skating.

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answers from Norfolk on

My daughter would draw and craft all day everyday if I let her. She loves art. I've watched her at school during the kids art time and she will whip out 10 or more pictures in the time other kids do between 1 to 3 and her's are soooo much more detailed and, well, better. I wouldn't worry about it or tell her she can't continue drawing. Maybe have her add to pictures she has already drawn or add more colors. Perhaps even get her to paint over top of them and explain artists always keep adding to their existing pictures.

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answers from Denver on

My daughter is like this, lol. We got her a large markerboard, it saves paper :)

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answers from Redding on

I ALWAYS had a huge tablet of art paper for my kids to draw on. It's so good for them, whether you think it's obsessive or not, I'd let her draw on.... it means something to her development. My fridge and walls were plastered with drawings when my kids were in that stage. She feels secure and accomplished while drawing. I even got a huge roll of butcher paper from my butcher one year, it lasted for a couple of years... I suggest you get yourself a roll :)

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answers from Minneapolis on

I have a boy who loves to draw all day. When we ran out of paper, he got "creative" and started using write and wipe pens on wipeable surfaces like bathroom walls, the side of laminated furniture and refrigerators! So I didn't know for a long time until I caught him before he had a chance to "erase". :)

He is a fantastic artist for his age (5). Very good detail and imagination. It gets better weekly too. I have never had him start to cry when we've run out of paper or had to put things away, but he often can spend at least a couple of hours drawing at a time. He likes it as much as his Legos which he also spends many hours playing.

I also don't know if this is a form of OCD, but so what if it is? There are some OCD symptoms that are "destructive" to the person and others. I do not consider drawing destructive. And if it calms a child, enhances creativity, is an outlet for energy why not?

You more than likely have a budding artist on your hands. I wouldn't stop this, but foster it. If money for paper is an issue consider the following options:

Write and wipe boards
Chalk boards and chalk
Magnetic drawing boards

I have a friend who bought chalk board paint from a hardware store and she painted a portion of her child's bedroom wall with it and her daughter and her friends can draw on the walls as they please. (There's magnetic paint too-- so if you want write and wipe and magnets instead you can do that).

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answers from San Diego on

My 5 1/2 year old is ALWAYS drawing. I think it's really good for her so I encourage it.

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answers from Seattle on

Every artist I've ever met!

Instead of loose leaf paper... get her a sketch book she can carry around with her (I'd suggest a "smaller" one The compusion is to draw what yo see or draw what's in your mind before you forget it, or before the scene changes. Whatever size the paper is dictates how big the image is. Something 6x4 ish will take a LOT less time than 9x11). Enroll her into some art/drawing classes.

With artists... whether it's visual (like drawing, photography, painting), music, written (stories), performace (acting, comedy)... those things take up space in your brain, and are coupled (frustratingly) with a fear of forgetting them. So on the one hand you want the space they're taking up, and on the other hand you don't want to forget them... so you get them down.

Another 'time saver' (in addition to a smaller notebook) is a SINGLE color. If you live near an art store a brown paper (or red, or grey, or whatever) color paper book coupled with a white pencil leads to some lovely results. Or there's the easy to come by white paper and grey pencil. TRY to stick to no more than 2 colors (white and charcoal gets used for a reason!)

Most kids draw (lol...although my son is NOT one of them)... very few are born artists.

My mum is a 'saver' as is hers. I have something like 200 sketchbooks filled cover to cover JUST from highschool and middle school (the elementary ones are in a big clothing box, and have not been counted). HER mum had hundreds of sketchbooks from MY mum (and ditto from one of my uncles who became an astrophysicist, and one of my aunts who became an engineer).

So the bicolor and sketchbook tricks aren't ones I use with MY son, but rather what was used with me, my mum, and others.


________ THEN sketchbook!

As in: Seatbelt THEN sketchbook, eat your dinner first THEN sketchbook, pick up your room first THEN sketchbook. Always have the book as the prize for other things that need to happen first. Grind it in; daily living, THEN sketchbook. Remind her in the car. "Okay, when we get home; you need to go to the bathroom, wash your hands, homework, THEN sketchbook. What's the order?" AND HAVE HER REPEAT IT BACK to you.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Like Laurie said..as another M. of an Arts student (mine is a senior in high school attending an Arts based high school..small local one with a great rep), let her draw!

As another said, get her some sketch books. Find an art store with good prices or Micheals and use the regular 40% off coupons. Make sure she has a bag SHE can carry (think large purse or small back pack), with her chosen medium..colored pencils, markers or simply some drawin pencils, big art erasers, etc....

My daughter always drew..the same things you describe, and she wrote stories too. Her "real" talent emerged about age 10-11. Now she attends an Arts High School, and will go to an Art College next year! Her teachers say she has a great future ahead of her. Her hope is to be an illustrator and work in graphic design as well.

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answers from Richmond on

I'd personally encourage it... who knows, maybe you have the new huge artist on your hands!!

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answers from San Francisco on

That's a GOOD thing!!! Please don't stop this very healthy habit! You have an artist on your hands! (And don't worry that she'll grow up to be a starving artist -- you will be sad when she outgrows it as a teen, which is what will likely happen.)

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think that's awesome! Don't discourage her!

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answers from Boston on

Ask friends and family to bring home the misprinted paper from work, we have a recycling bin and I bet about 50% are printed on one side only. Otherwise get a white board and buy her a cheap camera for christmas and make the picture file into a screen saver on your computer. That way you do not have to hold onto mountains of paper and she can see you enjoy her art every day on the computer screen saver.
Finally, OCD is only a problem if it interferes with her life, for instance if she is later for school because she keeps drawing, etc. I notice that my youngest used to kiss certain dolls good night in a specific order, now she taps a line of key chain dolls on the head before she goes to bed. However it has never stopped her from doing what she needs to do and be on time. My oldest had a phase where she used hand sanitizer a lot, way more than necessary, but now she does not use it at all unless we are somewhere where there is no water. I think many kids goes through phases, and unless it interferes with her or your life, I would let her. And keep all those pictures of her art, who knows, some day they may be worth lots of money!

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answers from Milwaukee on

My kids get obsessed with things and then it eventually passes. She just sounds like she is interested in drawing. If she draws a a picture then rips it up cuz it's not perfect, then draws it again, then rips it up and draws it again.... then I would be worried. She sounds normal.

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answers from San Francisco on

My daughter has high anxiety and during particularly stressful times (which includes normal growth/development spurts) she engages in some OCD behaviors. I remember her doing EXACTLY what you are describing at that age! She drew constantly, and it was usually pictures of family members, pets and friends, sometimes "scenes" of places she had been or would like to go.
Try to let her draw as much as possible, I think it's a healthy release for whatever's going on in her life. Make sure she uses BOTH sides of the paper so her supply lasts longer. Also if you or anyone else you know works in an office see if you can get your hands on any paper they may toss/recycle (like discontinued letterhead.)

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Does your daughter have OCD symptoms about anything else right now? If she does, you might talk with her doctor.

But this may also be a symptom of a love for drawing! You may have a genuine artist in your family. If this is going to become a real means of communication for her, encourage it. Save your used printer paper and let her draw on the clean back sides.

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answers from Boston on

My brother was like this, and still is. My mother encouraged and supported him and now he is a very successful tattooist.

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