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Most of the time when we have projects for our kids or they are coloring or painting, they’re doing it by themselves. But the girl loves to involve one or both of her parents in making something with her from time to time (and it was pretty much all she wanted to do on Saturday) so I thought it was time for some thoughts on making with your kids as opposed to alongside them.
1. Let it be their idea. You may have a project you really want to work on with your kids, but if they’re not into it, no one is going to have fun. If you want to do something together and they want to work alone, try working on your own thing beside them, or just give them space to make on their own.
2. Try not to say no. I know there are legitimately bad times for creating together, like when you’re trying to get dinner on the table or you’re about to leave the house. But if you can say yes, do. Even if it’s 6:17 in the morning.
3. Let them take the lead. Creating together often goes better when the kid is in charge. Let them decide if they want to paint, draw, make something with playdough, build a tower, whatever. You’re there for support, not to be bossy.
4. Let them be a little bossy. I know we’re not supposed to use that word anymore, but my kid is actually bossy in that she tells me what to do. When we’re creating together she’ll often tell me what colors to use, what to draw or how to put the blocks together. It drives me crazy but I let her. I try to think of it as “asserting her creativity.”
5. Let them mess with your part. This goes with the last one, but you need to let go of the part of the project you make and let your kid mess with it, draw over it or otherwise make it something other than your artistic vision. Lately the girl has been drawing lines between all the different doodles we make when we draw or paint together. She thinks that makes it look more cohesive; I think it looks messy. But it’s really her project, so she wins.
6. Ask questions. This can be a way to lead the project where you want it to go. What would happen if we? Or, do you want to try? Or just ask questions about why she chose that color, what that blob represents or why he smooshed those two things together.
7. Let them decide when it’s done. This may mean that you will get bored. Let that be OK. This is a special time for you and your kids, something hopefully they will remember fondly as something that was important and fun for them. You’ll remember it fondly, too. I promise.
Do your kids like to create with you? I’d love to hear your tips!