Frustration with crafts — The Bump
Pre-School

Frustration with crafts

My DD can color things very nicely... sometimes she sits down and colors in her coloring books, staying in the lines pretty well, variety of colors, etc.  (She's almost 4).

But a good amount of the time, she has more of a "destructive" twist on it.  Colors in an entire page in one color.  Obliterates everything with a black or brown crayon/ marker.  If she paints something, she mixes all the colors together and piles brown paint on.  When I pick her up from preschool, the kid's art projects are outside and I always know which one is DD's - the piece of paper soaked end to end in brown paint.

This morning DD saw a princess poster I bought for her (to color), and begged for it while I had breakfast to the point where I stopped eating to give it to her.  It is supposed to look like "stained glass" and you hang it in the window, so I told her something along the lines of making it very pretty .. and what does she do?  Obliterate it all with dark navy marker.

I used to get lots of cheap ceramic figurines for her to paint, but all she does is smear all the colors of paint together and glob it on them, so now we don't do them any more.  Also she loves glitter glue - but what she does is take the tube of glitter glue and squeeze it into a big puddle, she doesn't draw or do designs.  Stickers?  She doesn't arrange them nicely - she takes pages of hundreds of stickers and puts them on one little piece of paper.

I'm all for letting her do whatever she wants in terms of art, but I can't help being frustrated.  Do you think this is a phase?  I have to admit I was pretty irritated this morning when she just wrecked the princess poster in 30 seconds after I told her to make it nice.  Coloring books is one thing but I feel like I can't spend money on other crafts.  I was going to do a pottery party for her birthday but there is no way.  She would mash all the colors together in 2 seconds and glob it all on.

Re: Frustration with crafts

  • It's most likely just a phase.  Crafts are a sensory experience.  It sounds like she has already mastered coloring "within the lines" and now she trying something new.  She is trying to break out of the predrawn artwork into her own expression.  Just give her lots of blank paper and let her go to town.  Her inner artist wants to get out!  :)  If the yucky colors bother you, have her choose three colors to work with or show her how mixing some colors together creates new colors (red and yellow, blue and green).  Eva loves painting with blue and pink these days because she figured out it makes purple when they are mixed together.

    As for the pottery, I took Eva this summer and she surprised me with how well she did.  Just go in with no expectations.  Let her pick what she wants to paint- maybe a plaque or something plain so she can express herself.  Then get the colors one at a time- you can make a big deal about her choosing which color will come next.  You do have to put several coats on so chances are she will end up doing some mixing but it will be her's and a great memory no matter what it looks like.

    Oh and I feel ya on the stickers!  Eva has always loved them and would cover pages with them.  Now she likes to build towers with them.  My mom got her a couple Valentine sticker packs and she put every sticker in the same square inch but the tower stuck off the paper at least three inches.  Not the way I would use stickers but I think it's awesome that she is thinking outside of the box and being creative in her own way. 

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  • Deep breath! It's only art. Truly. I know it's frustrating when they do things that are not "up to their abilities." But it's not about you and what you think - it's about her having fun, having a sensory/fine motor experience. There will be plenty of time - years and years and years - where she is expected to color in the lines, use only certain colors and shapes. But for now, she's a little kid who is experimenting.

    If it makes you feel any better, my DD also likes to put stickers up in a big tower. She'll make a totally adorable drawing and then completely cover it in dark blue marker because she's decided that figure is now in the ocean. We went to a pottery place to make Christmas ornaments and hers had 10 colors on them. It's okay. It's not about what I want them to look like. It's about DD having a fun experience. I am the enforcer of SO many rules, and I just can't spend my energy on telling her how to color or paint. As long as she's using a good technique - treating the brushes nicely - I don't comment.

    Process, not product!! MaryAnn Kohl has some great kids art books, and that is always her underlying message. You might check some out at your library - lots of fun, kid-led art projects using all different mediums.

    Ditto Read2Me on giving her a fewer colors to choose from (but if she's like my DD, she'll probably mix all of them anyway - and that's okay).

     I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm just saying that there are so many hours in the day and you can't pick every battle. For me, I'm okay with letting her have fun with art. We do lots of projects, experiment with lots of different mediums, and a LOT of them are not frame-worthy. But that's no my goal - process, not product!! Good luck!

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  • Thanks.. at least I'm not the only one!

    But it does all make sense.. and it's like how little kids love to jump in mud puddles and make mud pies.

    I definitely won't try to control her creative process, but I do love the idea of giving her two colors so she gets it about the mixing of colors!  Use it all to my advantage!  Sounds like a great idea.

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