Connecting through creativity and art

art2Doing art projects and other creative activities with my kids is something that’s very important to me. As a child, I always disliked Art Class because I knew I wasn’t very good at art, but starting when my oldest son was 2, I wanted to make art a part of his life. I wanted to let it be something he could enjoy, whether or not he was good at it.

Over the last few years, art has been a way for us to connect, have fun, and learn.

Allowing children opportunities to create their own art is a wonderful way to help instill creativity and confidence. It can also provide sensory experiences, fine motor activities, and chances to learn about different styles of art.

To first get started with art activities, I spent some time walking around a craft store and selecting items that either seemed like the basics (paint, markers, and glue) or like they’d be really fun (googly eyes and pompoms). While I was there, I also picked up some 5d diamond painting kits for myself to break my hiatus and resume my painting hobby. I also got project ideas from the many blogs dedicated to toddler and preschool art.

Our activities have been very different based on my children’s ages. When my son was 2 and we were just starting, we did a lot of finger painting, sensory activities with things like rice and oatmeal, and water play with cups, bowls, and spoons.  As a preschooler, he experimented with painting with strange objects like ribbons and flowers, and we explored some famous artists. I loved painting of few artists and also decided to hung it at my home for him, so after seeing painting he can get more interest into painting. I decided to get a Pet paint by visiting the custom painting online. Now that he’s 6, we’ve been getting art books from the library for him to select project ideas from, and he’ll help pick out art supplies that he wants to use.

We both try our best to remember that it’s about having fun, not about having a perfect finished product.

When my second and third children were born, I found ways to get them involved in art at an earlier age. I found baby-friendly activities, such as filling a container with colorful tissue paper or a variety of fabric scraps with different textures, and placing paint and a paper inside a sealed plastic bag for them to smoosh around and make their first paintings — completely mess-free.art3

For us, art has been one way to connect. After my second child was born, it was also a way to have some much-needed one-on-one time with my oldest son while his baby brother was napping. For other families, there may be different but equally fulfilling ways of achieving this, if art isn’t interesting to you or it’s not something you can make time for right now. It’s important to explore and find your own ways of connection.

We Heart Collage

This AP Month Blog Event post was submitted by reader Chwynyn Vaughan, who blogs at Mama Is Inspired.

At all times, there is a work of glue art on the go atop my kitchen table. Since my son’s other first language is French, my husband finds it amusing that glue art is what my son and I have come to call collage. However, since my son has not created a hierarchy for the colorful scraps of paper images and the glue used to hold them down, this name is entirely à propos. While most adults would be satisfied to employ glue only for the purpose of adhering cut paper pieces to a backdrop, my son makes use of his glorious glue to add another dimension to his work.

A two-year-old contemplating collage

A two-year-old contemplating collage

 

I was truly startled the first time I watched my son handle the glue in this fashion. It seemed like so much work. For a two-year-old, squeezing with both hands, it takes all the strength his little body can muster to get a good stream of glue going. He also tends to forget that gravity is at play. Sometimes he gets a little frustrated. In spite of this, he never gives up.

Eventually, he manages to spread the glue around like paint, thoughtfully laying down drips, spots and trails. He is young! Of course he makes use of glue in this manner! He still possesses the artistic freedom of a child who has not yet been told that pictures are more important than white, drippy goo.

I was also surprised by how thoughtfully my son considers just where each image and extra pour of glue should go. I am not sure why this surprised me so much. It is a work of art, and he does not imagine that he is just slapping disposed paper on cardboard. Of course he cares about his project!

My young son’s passion extends beyond the white glue and many-colored images. I never imagined that I would allow my son to use scissors all by himself at the tender age of two. After a couple of times observing me cut out his collage pictures, my son worked up a desire to wield the scissors on his own. I didn’t consciously set out to grant him his wish, but on a whim one day, I bought a pair of children’s scissors that beckoned to me from a store shelf of art supplies.

When we arrived home, my son was ecstatic to find out that I had actually bought these scissors. I do not think he expected to be using scissors any more than I did. These scissors did not disappoint. My son is in love with cutting. In fact, cut and couper are the only words my son regularly uses to express a single concept, in both of his languages.

A love affair with scissors

A love affair with scissors

 

Now my son is able to manage every step of glue art or collage all on his own. He sees his father’s own collage work and notices there is not much of a difference between the work the two of them produce. No wonder collage is my son’s favorite work to make in his kitchen-studio.

Collage is also a great way to reuse and repurpose cast away items in our home. Mostly for the worse, we live in an age of excess print material. I am trying to make the better of this wasteful trend. Collage is a fun, creative place to start. I look at mail-order catalogs, nonprofit materials and museum membership drives with new eyes. The same goes for food boxes and packaging left from new toys. We take apart old crafts that my son has made at library story-time or parent-and-me classes and salvage all the materials we think we would like to use again. We have a bag full of items to be cut up and another sac of images and craft supplies that are ready to glue.

Sifting through and cutting up images gives me something to do so that I am actively involved in my son’s project, while at the same time letting my son create on his own; I am present the way he wants me to be, but at the same time, he has all the autonomy he seeks. This works out very well for both of us. Glue art has worked its way into our hearts.

Finished art

Finished art

Have No Fear

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali

Children do not have this fear. I think it spills over to being a parent, too. I have learned by trial and error to not be afraid. I am not a perfect parent, nor will I ever be.

When my son paints, he does it so organically and naturally. I usually let him have his way with the water colors, crayons, and water mixing cups. It gets messy — real messy.

He knows what colors he wants to use and how to curve the crayon to meet his own needs. He bends and turns, creating his own masterpieces. I will admit, I often am not supervising him directly when he is painting.  He has a table in the art room/office. When I am writing, he is creating.  We are in the same room.  I set up his materials in the respect of leaving brushes out, often uncleaned. He figures it out. He’ll ask me when he needs some help or fresh water. Most of the time, he says, “I’ll do it all myself.” He is three.

I am often amazed at his creations. I like to think he is a natural, but all children are natural artists.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

I am trying to think of ways art and creativity can translate into parenting.  I believe Attachment Parenting has been a natural process for my family. We had the tools, and the art was created. We have used the Eight Principles in our life and have selected the “colors” which are our favorites.  You do not have to practice all eight Principles to get certified as an AP parent.  There is no certification. Some parents only use a couple principles, some use all eight of them.

My husband and I are practicing gentle discipline. At times, it is frustrating. At times, I wonder how fear would be more effective. But we guide and teach and teach and guide. Sometimes we are left with bite marks and exhausted sighs, but we know we are creating our own masterpiece. Our son is a blank canvas and the colors we choose will have an effect on him. We choose each color from the parent palette carefully.

So, I leave you with an art show of some of my son’s artwork.

Painting 1

Principle 1: Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

 

Become emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth. Research available options for healthcare providers and birthing environments, and become informed about routine newborn care. Continuously educate yourself about developmental stages of childhood, setting realistic expectations and remaining flexible.

Painting 2

Principle 2: Feed with Love and Respect

 

Breastfeeding is the optimal way to satisfy an infant’s nutritional and emotional needs. “Bottle Nursing” adapts breastfeeding behaviors to bottle-feeding to help initiate a secure attachment. Follow the feeding cues for both infants and children, encouraging them to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Offer healthy food choices and model healthy eating behavior.

Painting 3

Principle 3: Respond with Sensitivity

 

Build the foundation of trust and empathy beginning in infancy. Tune in to what your child is communicating to you, then respond consistently and appropriately. Babies cannot be expected to self-soothe; they need calm, loving, empathetic parents to help them learn to regulate their emotions. Respond sensitively to a child who is hurting or expressing strong emotion, and share in their joy.

Painting 4

Principle 4: Use Nurturing Touch

 

Touch meets a baby’s needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation, and movement. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective, such as during breastfeeding, bathing, or massage. Carrying or babywearing also meets this need while on the go. Hugs, snuggling, back rubs, massage, and physical play help meet this need in older children.

Painting 5

Principle 5: Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally

 

Babies and children have needs at night just as they do during the day — from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too hot or too cold. They rely on parents to soothe them and help them regulate their intense emotions. Sleep training techniques can have detrimental physiological and psychological effects. Safe co-sleeping has benefits to both babies and parents.

Painting 6

Principle 6: Provide Consistent and Loving Care

 

Babies and young children have an intense need for the physical presence of a consistent, loving, responsive caregiver: ideally a parent. If it becomes necessary, choose an alternate caregiver who has formed a bond with the child and who cares for him in a way that strengthens the attachment relationship. Keep schedules flexible, and minimize stress and fear during short separations.

SONY DSC

Principle 7: Practice Positive Discipline

 

Positive discipline helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Discipline that is empathetic, loving, and respectful strengthens the connection between parent and child. Rather than reacting to behavior, discover the needs leading to the behavior. Communicate and craft solutions together while keeping everyone’s dignity intact.

I drew this when I was a kid. My mom saved all my art.  Principle 8: Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

I drew this when I was a kid. My mom saved all my art.
Principle 8: Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

 

It is easier to be emotionally responsive when you feel in balance. Create a support network, set realistic goals, put people before things, and don’t be afraid to say “no.” Recognize individual needs within the family and meet them to the greatest extent possible without compromising your physical and emotional health. Be creative, have fun with parenting, and take time to care for yourself.

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus

* Descriptions of each Principle under each painting are from www.attachmentparenting.org.

 

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