"The skills children develop when engaging in craft activities are integral when looking at those necessary for life and success in the work world," says child psychologist Dr. Steven Feldgaier, Director of Parenting Initiatives at Healthy Child Manitoba and Assistant Professor at the Department of Clinical Health Psychology at the University of Manitoba. In addition to the aforementioned abilities, kids who craft can also improve their language and perseverance skills, benefit from a sense of self-competence and enhanced creativity, and increase their knack for problem solving. What's more, says Dr. Feldgaier, parents who get involved in their child's artsy endeavours can even help strengthen the parent-child relationship.
Want to get started? Here’s how.
Be prepared. Despite best efforts, it’s very possible that your child’s first few crafting attempts may not go as smoothly as planned. Know this ahead of time, stock your craft supply container with as many materials as reasonable to stimulate their imagination, and remember that like every other activity, kids need time and patience to warm up to it. Also important to keep in mind: There will be a mess. Kids channeling their inner crafters need room and opportunity to get creative, so clear some space, take a deep breath and prepare yourself for a bit of chaos.
Get involved. Sure, setting your child up with a bucket of craft supplies while you adjourn to the couch is an option, but to foster all the traits and skills listed above, making the time to get involved is the better bet. "These activities are about more than creativity. When parents choose to participate, they provide kids with a sense of self-worth, share in their child's exploration of the materials and world around them, and ultimately strengthen the bond with their child," say Dr. Feldgaier.
Dole out encouragement. We get it: Not every child loves to craft. If yours is decidedly against all things glue-, scissor- or construction paper-related, don't give up. Even in small doses, kids can greatly benefit from craft exposure, so encourage them from a young age to take time for art, and allow them to do their own thing. "Kids who are generously praised during these types of scenarios are motivated to continue on and will take more pride in their work," says Dr. Feldgaier. "This increases their willingness to participate in future activities and means they're more likely to do so with energy and a sense of excitement."
Minimize criticism. "Parents often make the mistake of being overly prescriptive or structured in these types of activities," says Dr. Feldgaier. His advice: Offer suggestions on how you would make or do something, but don’t expect kids to fall exactly in line with your approach. "Take the stance that there’s no right or wrong way to be creative. Nothing destroys a child's sense of pride and accomplishment more than someone – especially a parent – insisting that their project is somehow wrong or needs to be changed," he adds.
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