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So often I hear children when they are engaging in art or creative activities in our sessions be extremely critical towards themselves. Most of the time I hear phrases like:
1. Its stupid
2. I can't do this
3. I'm stupid
4. I hate this
5. Its not right
Some children do not even say anything and simply communicate with their actions from:
1. Rubbing out every line or using an eraser frequently
2. Throwing their pencils on the table
3. Hitting the table
4. Crossing their arms and not engaging
5. Disrupting the classroom
When you can understand why children do this, it is a lot easier to manage. Whenever I am doing a session of art or creativity with a child I never tell them to draw. I work with them as a team to draw together and achieve something together. Some examples would be that I would draw the picture but ask the children to point out what type of shapes they see and where does the shape go, how big or small is the shape next to the other one. This way, they are still engaging and learning. Depending on their level of confidence I ask them to draw one thing on their project towards the end.
Why is this done? When you feel you are 'encouraging' a child by saying come on, give it a try, you know you can do this, to saying its ok to get things wrong are all phrases children feel 'controlled' by. Every person naturally pushes themselves out of their comfort zones when they feel ready. They have to make the decision to push themselves out their comfort zone. If you are 'encouraging' a child to push themselves this can be damaging to their confidence especially in what is supposed to be fun activities. The reason for this is because when they get the activity wrong they will be upset with themselves and decide that they just cannot do it.
Why do children mostly use critical words?
1. They have an older sibling who they compare themselves to. The sibling easily completes the task and they feel they should be able to.
2. They have a parent who they compare themselves to. The child will see that the adult is successfully achieving an end result without making mistakes. They don't see how the adult had to practice to get to the point of creating by learning from many mistakes.