The body image is sensitvely reactive to influences that disturb the emotional life. The human figure tends to express children's awareness of their feelings. As feelings increases, their drawings of the body become a more intimate personal statement.
The position and size of the figures, emphasis or omission of limbs or omission of persons are examples of features that are used by children as a means of expression.
The following drawing is done by a girl of 4 years 10 months. Note the tiny unstable feet and the instability of the entire figure.
The following features are ones that are most likely used by children to express their feelings in their drawings.
Small, unsupportive feet in most cases indicate feelings of insecurity and instability.
Feelings of insecurity, instability or anxiety may be revealed in drawings when a child draw a small figure that occupy a small amount of available space rather than a large figure that is occupying the page freely.
Exaggerated size of hands is regareded as symbolic of aggressive behaviour if the figure is a self-portrait of the child. If the figure represents a parent of care-taker, the over-emphasis on the hands be indicate aggressive behaviour that is received, anticipated, or feared.
Omission of the upper limbs very likely indicate timidity and passivity. The omission become most unusual if it continues after the age of ten. By the age of ten, children should have the capacity and perceive and draw an entire human figure. Children who continues to draw human figures with no arms signals a non-aggressive, cautious and timid behaviour.
Note the stability size of the entire figure. There are no body parts that are omitted and the figure is drawn freely on the page.
It is extremely important to remember that these are features of the drawings that may be taken into consideration if and when children appear to have behavioural problems. This may offer as a useful guide in getting through to children but it must not be depended on too deeply. There are, again, great risks in reading too much into the drawings.