Monday, February 1, 2010

'NO!!' to Crafts

When your child repeatedly rejects your enthusiastic suggestions to make a craft ladybug or paint the blue ocean, what do you do?

Some parents may think 'hey, they don't like crafts, no big deal!' and just chuck the stuff away and never to bring them out again. 

But there is another group who may think 'oh no, we must keep trying until they learn to enjoy it.' This group probably also worries that their kid may lose out the opportunity to nurture his artistic side. He may not be the next Van Gogh, but still, what if he has got a headstart in art and crafts?...  

I recommend a more balanced approach depending on your expectations and what you want to get out of him doing the crafts. Like I always tell parents in our classes, as you would have heard me say, that it always depends on parents' expectations.

So ask yourself - do you want him to do the crafts because you want to encourage him to explore and cultivate the creativity in him? Or do you want to teach him to listen to instructions or is it about working on his patience and attention span? 

Regardless of your reasons, it is ineffective to force a child who is unwilling to work on crafts. 

Some kids may throw in those extra few minutes for you, but ended up crying. It is probably better in this case, to change the objectives of the craft, encourage them with a different approach, or just shelf it and revisit later.

There are also some kids who take longer to warm up to crafts. For these kids, they may need more exposure, encouragement before they warm up. Give up too early is not the end of the world but it just means the child may miss out on opportunities to explore in this area. But persist too much and turn the child off the crafts completely is not a good idea either.

It is like social skills. Some kids are very shy and reserved. Should we expose them to playgrounds and social gatherings and gently coax them to join the group or hide them at home till they develop their social skills naturally?

Here is something which I may not have shared before since it happened before I started blogging. My older boy would run away when I first introduced him to playdoh, painting and crafts. Up till he was about 18 months old, he would get upset when there was paint or glue on his fingers. He would fuss about cleaning his hands and refuse to continue. 

I did not give up, though I did not force him either. I just continue to offer the opportunities to him and braced myself for rejections! Then one day, when he was 21 months old, it all changed! He happily made a crab craft with me which involved lots of glue and paint and got his hands, face and shirt all messy with paint. 

That taught me a lot and I was so pleased that I had persevered. 

So parents should not give up simply when the child said 'no'. Think of the possible causes for him to reject the craft and reintroduce it a few days or weeks later. Try something else that is totally different and observe his receptiveness. 

I know it is cliche but I always think that there is no other way sometimes than just plain patience and perseverance. And it doesn't just apply to crafts, but to all areas of parenting and learning. 


The Beauties In Our Lives said...

I agree totally - patience mixed with perseverance is really the way to teach our children to appreciate the things they should be appreciating. Forcing our children to do something that we want...for our own agenda...will only turn them off that particular activity. What an interesting entry!

Unknown said...

I thought my 16 month old boy is the only one that does not like craft.
Afterall I see many kids enjoying paint & playdoh till they get it all over their body.
I thought he's a clean freak and would never take to craft especially dough.
Thanks for sharing this.
I will continue to introduce craft to my boy from time to time.

Malina said...

You are so right Shirley!Parents should neither force nor give up totally when their children are not interested in crafts.My son seemed disinterested and I persisted till I discovered that he is interested in crafts related to vehicles.So I think persistence pays when you want your children to benefit from some activity!

Alice Law said...

My girl loves art and craft!

I introduced her to playdough and art as young as 6-8 months old, when there were many adults against it and claimed kids know nothing at this age!

Domesticgoddess said...

The Beauties in Our Lives, thanks!

Mico, you are welcome! It is very common actually for toddlers to reject crafts to a certain extent. But with gentle and patient perseverance from parents, it is highly unlikely that such resistance will persist forever. Keep trying and do come back and share with us!

Malina, thanks for dropping by! I think Nayaz has progressed beautifully since I first met him! Well done, mummy. I can tell that you have done a fabulous job outside our classes. Keep it up and all your hard work will pay off. :>

Alice, good for you! It is so true that many adults are still so mistaken about the abilities and potential that little babies and toddlers have. I wrote about it here.


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