It's eight in the evening. You arrive home after work, and the first thing that greets you is a gigantic work of art on the wall by your three-year-old child. Before you burst into anger, please wait. The desire to express ourselves through lines and colours may grow into extraordinary abilities. Leave some two-year-olds with crayons and paper, and they will soon produce stacks of 'pictures' full of lines and dots. Children's drawing instructor Yeung Wai-pong points out that the pictures contain codes that are universal to toddlers around the world until cultural influence sets in. 'Most children start with random lines, then circles, before they turn them into a sun, then the head of a man,' says Mr Yeung, programme co-ordinator at the Hong Kong In-Form Art and Design School. 'After that, they start adding arms and legs to it. It reflects a process of recognitive development. The process is universal.' It is always a good idea to encourage children to draw. 'The most important thing [about drawing] is an appreciation of beauty,' Mr Yeung says. '[Children] appreciate things that please the eyes.' Drawing also boosts children's ability to observe and analyse. 'If children draw a flower, they have to understand what a flower is made up of and how these things are arranged. The picture is the result of their observation and analysis,' Mr Yeung says. Kwok Ying, an instructor of the Art School at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, points out that children are more receptive if they are taught through drawing because it is a fun way of learning. In the long run, a child who enjoys freedom in expressing his or her emotions is more likely to grow into a confident individual. But the most important thing for parents is that the pictures are windows to their children's minds. 'A child in my class once drew a picture of a tree wanting to bite him,' Mr Yeung recalls. 'As we talked I found out he had this dream almost every night. That pointed to an unhappy experience.' Don't worry about how to get your child started. The urge is natural. 'Most children are attracted to crayons by their colours and smell. Give them a sketch book and they will start drawing,' Ms Kwok says. If you want to turn drawing into a hobby for your children, sign them on to a class when they turn three. But there are lots of things you can do at home. Encourage them to draw and join in. 'Parents can also give children a drawer to store their work,' Ms Kwok says. 'Having their own space gives them a sense of pride.' Getting a white board is also a good idea. But there are things parents should not do: ? Rule number one: Don't judge your children's artwork from an adult's perspective. 'We tend to think a picture is good because it looks like the real thing, but children don't see the world that way. They enjoy creating, and it's important that they experiment freely,' Mr Yeung says. ? Avoid correcting their work. 'It frustrates them,' Ms Kwok says. It is okay to hold their hands and draw together, says Ms Kwok. The rule of thumb is, make sure they understand that this is not their own picture, but a product by both of you. ? Finally, don't say that one child is better than another, but it is all right to point out who is good at what. Now, back to your living room. Don't scream. Otherwise, your child's potential will be killed. To avoid a similar incident, try the following: ? Persuade them to draw on paper, and put their artwork up on the refrigerator or window. ? If they cannot keep their crayons off the wall, assign them a space in their bedroom. As for this very moment, why not sit down with your child and appreciate that artistic creation?