Encourage, Keep and Treasure – An Essential Guide To Giving Your Child The Benefits of Crafting

We live in a world where the attention of our children is constantly being demanded.

Where kids were once preferred to be seen and not heard, their power has now been recognized. Brands acknowledge – and worse yet, seek to capitalize on – pester power. Children are targeted as their very own demographic, with massive campaigns of bright colors designed to capture them.

As a parent, trying to control the influence of companies over your child can be difficult. Advertising is now all pervasive, taking over every area of life – and your child is primed to see them. Why are they primed to notice? Because that’s what the ads are designed for. Children are not consumers themselves, but they are marketed to like they are.

Yet with all the benefits that being a digital native, we also know that growing up in the 21st century is not easy. Not only is their attention commandeered by many different outlets, but it’s straight up not good for them. Studies have shown that today’s children have far worse self-esteem than the generations that have gone before. This seems to be inextricably linked to the rise of social media, a kind of collective narcissism that kids can’t see past. As adults, we can look at carefully crafted Instagram pictures and know they crop out the mess. We know this is not a representation of someone’s life; that this is just the side of themselves that they are choosing to show to the world.

Children, however, are not able to be so discerning. The impact on their mental health is real and could be creating a generation with chronic self-esteem issues.

So How Do You Fight Back?

Companies, advertising, social media – is it all just an unrelenting tide that every parent has to learn to bow to?

No. Even though it sometimes feels that way sometimes, it is possible to reclaim the simpler pleasures. To bring life back a step, to transfer to reality rather than to the screen. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to encourage children to craft.

Crafting somehow seems antiquated, when we live in a society which wants what it wants – and now. The idea of sitting and working on something for hours on end is strange to children. Even if they do have a desire to sit and make things, attention spans are short, and there is always something else demanding their attention. What was once a staple of childhood – just making things, using imagination – is in danger of fading.

Why Is Crafting So Beneficial?

Studies have shown many reasons why crafting should be high on your child’s free time agenda.

  • It helps improve their visual skills. The best method of teaching is generally by doing; learning something in the abstract only goes so far. When your child has to plan, execute and see the results of a project, they learn far more than watching a video could have taught them.
  • It improves motor skills. Crafting can be fiddly! A child having to take the time to get things in the right place, often handling tools – these can only have positive benefits.
  • Outside of the more practical uses, crafting also tends to bring together child and parents for bonding time. With the number of hours that children watch TV seemingly moving exponentially upward, crafting is a way to reclaim some of it.

Finally, there is also the fact that this type of activity teaches about the process of a work ethic. It guides you through from the beginning. Your child conceives an idea, figures out how to do it and then does it – this is invaluable in terms of gaining life skills. It opens their imagination, teaches them the value of persistence and the satisfaction of a reward at the end of a job well done. Even if their project doesn’t entirely go to plan, they can learn valuable lessons in how to adapt to difficulties and find new ways to forge ahead. The occasional frustrated tantrum helps them process that and, with your guidance, channel it.

angel-564351_1280

What If Your Child Is Not Interested In Crafting?

It’s somewhat inevitable that you might have a battle on your hands. It’s not just outside influences fighting for your child’s attention – you have to do it as well.

Initially, you may find some resistance to the idea of making something. They would rather watch TV, play the latest smartphone game or talk with their friends online.

By far the easiest way of introducing the activity to them is to do it without them noticing. Rather than presenting an idea of “we’re going to do a craft session today”, focus it more on you doing it. It’s something you want to do and are looking forward to – and then, in the middle of it, you find something that needs their help. Appealing to their desire to assist a parent, this also makes them feel special. You have found an activity that only they can do; anything that requires small fingers is a good way of persuading them of their input’s necessity.

Hopefully, from there they will begin to associate the experience with positive things. Begin to ask if they want to help you with something. Initially, have something in mind that you intend to do, moving on to them creating their own projects in time. If you’re lucky, while assisting you, they will wonder aloud about other things they might like to try. You then have an open window of opportunity to encourage and nurture.

A good starting point is, conveniently, right around the corner. Christmas decorations appeal to their sense of the season, so use this as your gateway (so to speak) project.

If all else fails, there is nothing wrong with instructing them to do this because you say so. Try and keep it light and fun, and explain you did it as a child and would like for them to try it. Again, Christmas decorations are a great excuse – especially as they will soon see their efforts in your home.

How Do You Continue To Nurture The Interest?

When you have got the ball rolling, it’s necessary to take a few steps to make sure they continue to go forward.

  • Keep things new and exciting. There is an endless amount of different projects to tackle, so try and change mediums as often as possible to keep it fresh. Think of all the possibilities, from decoupage to sewing to paper crafts.
  • Set aside some time in the schedule for the new hobby. You may find yourself wanting to encourage this, but time is short. A habit is only truly formed when you do it often enough for it to become routine. Try and set aside enough time every week to indulge this new passion.
  • In the initial stages, if your child requests a craft session, then go with it. Even if it is somewhat inconvenient; this is all about teaching them they can explore their creativity. And who are you to say when the creative bug is going to bite them? So be willing to be flexible and roll with it if they decide 6 pm on a Sunday night is a great time to make a Christmas card. In time, you can trim this desire into more usable chunks, but for the moment it’s just important to nurture the instinct.
  • Introduce different elements of crafting. This doesn’t have to be a battle between the new and old schools of how children spend their time. There are ways and means of making technology a huge part of their hobby. Graphics programs can teach them the beauty of visual art, while a 3D pen can seem like magic brought to life in front of them. It doesn’t all have to be paper chains and collages; make use of technological advancements to add an extra edge.

What If They Lose The Desire To Craft?

So you’ve done well – you got them interested, and then they continued. But now, the interest appears to be waning. Is there any way to tempt them back?

If necessary, just repeat the first steps: you have a problem, and only they can help solve it. Boredom may also be a big issue here, so try and tempt them with different projects in different mediums to bring their attention back.

They may also appear to have lost the bug because you have not made enough time. While it is difficult, crafting is not a satisfying hobby if it is constantly done on the fly. Try and make an extra effort to make more time in the schedule to allow for longer sessions, where projects can be explored in depth. Doing things bit by bit is all well and good, but sometimes, crafting needs a couple of hours dedicated to it to really be able to flourish.

Of course, for some children, this is never going to be something they enjoy. In those cases, don’t force it. If you’ve exhausted all the options and it’s still not happening, look elsewhere for a hobby that has the same benefits. All you can do is give it your best shot.

Categories: Child

About Author

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*