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Make + Wonder blog with ideas and tips for supporting your child’s creativity and confidence.

Tips on how to support children to be confident at creating

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The question I get asked most often is - my child always gets frustrated when she is doing a creative project, how can I help her? Firstly I don’t have a quick fix answer (sorry) but l do have lots of tips that i’ve used as a teacher and a mum. I’ve talked about this before on instagram, my daughter stopped wanting to draw and became really frustrated when she did anything creative after she started school. It’s been a long process, but she is much more confident again at drawing and painting. These are my tips …

  1. I never draw for children. Often three year olds start nursery not being confident to draw, and they ask me to draw for them. If a child asks me to draw, I always say your drawing will be brilliant and encourage them to have ago. I find they quickly stop asking and try themselves. I don’t draw for children as I want them to have ago and I have found that by drawing for them, it gives them the impression that an adult drawing is better than their drawing. I also find if you do draw for them, they will continue to ask you first and stop having a go. If you never draw or make their art projects for them- its just not an option for them and they are much more willing to have ago themselves.

  2. I avoid using templates and colouring books. This rule does’t apply to all children. But if you have a child that is reluctant to draw or paint, or gets frustrated when creating I would avoid colouring books, template, or creative kits that are too focused on the product. Just like drawing for children, colouring sheets give children the message that this is the art we value. I’ve also written about this here. Focusing on the product, can be really frustrating for children, as its really hard to reproduce something that has been made by someone else. This can also make children think that the product is better than their own ideas.

  3. Talk about the process not the product. Commenting on the process encourages children to talk and reflect on their process. By focusing your comments on the process, children will begin to value the process as they realise that you value the process more than the product. Instead of commenting “Thats’ great”, which is my judgement. I comment and ask questions to encourage them to talk about their process. Children respond to this really well and like that you’ve noticed the details. This makes them feel more confident to explore.

  4. Getting frustrated is OK. Take a break, have a snack and keep trying. I may gently try to encourage them, by commenting and acknowledging that they are annoyed. I might comment “I notice you got really annoyed when that didn’t work. You’ve worked really hard to do all this. Maybe we could try to cut them a different way?”. Sometimes I might wait and when they start trying again, I will really praise and acknowledge this process and their effort.

  5. Process Art ideas. Focus on doing lots of process art ideas with no end result in mind. Set up little invitations to play to encourage children to explore different media. Doing lots of process art helps children to become more confident at exploring and having ago. As they become more confident and older (over five years), you could gently introduce some skills. Some of my favourites accounts on instagram with process art ideas are Meri Cherry, Bar Rucci & Tinker Lab

  6. Collaboration - Invite fiends round to make and explore together. This collaboration and enthusiasm creates a brilliant creative energy that can boost your child’s confidence.

  7. Art supplies. Set up an area in your house where children can easily access painting/drawing supplies. Being able to access these independently helps and encourages children’s to create and explore. Revisiting the same art supplies over a period of time, is also a really important part of the creative process. We use an Ikea trolley to hold our day to day art supplies.

    How do you encourage your children to be confident at creating? Do your children get frustrated when things go wrong. I would love to hear your tips for encouraging them.