“Mom, I’m bored.”
I’m willing to bet if you had a dime for every time you heard a kid say that phrase, or some variation of it, you’d have at least $10 bucks. My mother usually responded the same way I respond to my kids now, “Go outside, play a game, make some art.”
Make some art
Making art was always something I could lose hours to as a kid. I could take paper and crayons, or old muddied watercolors and be content until I ran out of paper. Or until my mom told me it was time to clear the table for dinner.
When my own kids came along, I wanted to foster their love for artistic creativity. There are a ton of social, emotional and motor skill development benefits of kids exploring their artistic creativity. Kids can use art to express themselves well before they have the language skills necessary to do so. Artistic creativity encourages kids to think differently and to create something from nothing all on their own. This boosts their confidence and self-esteem. What kid doesn’t love to see their most recent artistic work hanging prominently on the front of the refrigerator?
Spending time with a parent working on an art project facilitates bonding. You may also earn some serious points when you impress them with your ability to draw the most unconventional looking giraffe. I assure you they will love it.
My kids’ art – the good and the confusing
One day my 7-year-old showed me this picture he made. I was instantly terrified by it. Then he explained it to me. He said there was food in his stomach and all the red stuff were the nutrients from the food being carried all over his body. If you’ll notice, it says “Not Yumy” and points toward the contents of his stomach. You might be able to surmise that he was coming to terms with the concept that some healthy foods might not be a favorite on the flavor scales.
Later he made this painting after reading a book about emus. Thus, restoring my confidence in my parenting skills.
My younger son created this self-portrait one day when he was 5. I found it interesting that he put some effort into creating grass with various shades of green, but he proclaimed the work finished after adding a colorless pencil drawing of himself surrounded by a great void.
A few weeks later he made this self-portrait, proving that sometimes we feel small in the vastness of the world around us, and sometimes we feel the sun shining on our smiling faces.
Show off your skills
When my first son was very young he was obsessed with trains. One day we were painting together and he asked me to paint a picture of Engine No. 3 with our dog as the engineer. I was filled with pride when he proclaimed it the best painting ever and that he wanted to frame it and hang it in his bedroom. We compromised by taping it to the wall.
All this is to say that you don’t need to have a bunch of expensive art supplies. The creative process will most likely be messy, and the final product might not be “good.” But encouraging your kids to create art and taking some time to be creative with them is time well spent that can help make lasting memories and fun childhood mementos.