10 Things to Avoid When Starting a Craft Project
5. Being Too Judgmental
Crafting isn't a contest. In fact, it isn't any kind of test. This is supposed to be fun! There are plenty of situations in your child's life where he's being judged and evaluated; this doesn't need to be another one. This may actually be one of the few situations where your child can feel free to express himself without fear of judgment. No one's keeping score, there's no final exam, no grade, and no one's going to make fun of him if he doesn't do it "right."
Ask your child how he feels about what he's accomplished. Praise often, criticize rarely. Get into the process more, rather than concentrating completely on the results. So what if the mobile hangs a little crooked? The next one will be better. Besides, maybe it actually looks better that way.
6. Worrying Too Much About Neatness
Consider making crafts aprons just for your child and yourself. You could embroider your names on them, or make them out of your favorite colors. Look for apron or smock patterns in your favorite pattern catalogs the nest time you go to the fabric store.
If you can't make a mess, don't do something messy. Or perhaps it's better put this way:
If you're going to do something messy, make sure you do it somewhere you can. Don't try painting in the living room or using a glue gun on the dining room table without putting newspaper down first. It's hard to have a good time if you're worried about the floor, your work surface, or your clothes. If you're doing something particularly messy, like tie dyeing or making paper, try to do it somewhere that's easy to clean up. How about outside or in the kitchen?
Clear away things that might be damaged by an errant paintbrush or a splattering pot of wax. Make sure there's enough space to work safely and efficiently. Wear protective clothing or old clothes. Have plastic or rubber gloves in the right sizes available. Pull hair neatly out of the way. Again, take the time to prepare and everyone will have a better time.
7. Trying to Do Too Much at Once
Again, slow down. Sure you'd like to finish the project in one sitting, but it may require drying time. If you've read the instructions thoroughly, you know what the steps are and the time you'll need for each one. Break the project up into several sessions, if necessary, or plan a hot chocolate break for the time when the glue or paint is drying. Don't try to take shortcuts or rush the process. You're actually teaching a valuable lesson when you let things take their course and exercise patience.
Be realistic about the time you have and what you can accomplish in that time. Just because you only have a couple of hours to devote to a project doesn't mean you shouldn't start it. Instead, plan to break it up into more than one session and let your child know that's what you'll be doing. Be flexible: If it's bedtime but the project's not finished, agree on a time when you'll complete it together (and don't renege).
Sure, you need to watch what's going on, but don't overdo it. In fact, you might consider doing the project yourself and letting your child do her own. You're working together, but on different versions of the same project.
That way you'll be involved in your own process and more likely not to meddle, watch too closely, or take over. Walk out of the room if you have to, bite your lip, but DON'T interfere. Making mistakes and struggling with new skills is part of life. Allow your child to experience those things, so she can experience the thrill of mastery.
9. Working When You're Too Tired
Bet You Didn't Know
The Post-It note was the result of a failure. While trying to develop a better glue, a researcher inadvertently made a batch that didn't stick at all, at least not permanently. That mistake produced a product most of us would be hard-pressed to do without!
This one goes for both of you — adult and child. Be aware of your energy level and don't work when you're tuckered out or when it's obvious your child is ready to pack it in. It can only lead to disaster: short tempers, unnecessary mishaps, and avoidable accidents (since we're most likely to violate safety rules when we're over-tired).
Avoid this situation by scheduling time for crafts for when you're most likely to be rested. Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons might be good. A session right after school might fit in best; or schedule a longer session on a school holiday.
The key is planning, but sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry. Acknowledge when you're just too tired to do a craft, apologize (yes, apologize), and agree on another time that's not too far away. Allow your child the out, as well.
10. Insisting on Success
I know, you want your child to be an achiever. No failures in your family! But did you know some of the greatest achievements in human history have been born out of failure? There has to be room for things not to work. Children (and adults) need to have a secure environment in which to make mistakes and learn from them. One of the best ways to ensure success is to allow room for failure or, as I like to put it, "successes in progress." Children learn to give themselves permission to make mistakes when parents do. Give that same permission to yourself.
More on: Crafts for Kids
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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