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Encouraging toddler to draw

(34 Posts)
MrsCaptainReynolds Fri 03-Jan-14 00:03:56

This might be a bit trivial but could do with some tips please.

DS is 2 years and 3 months. He is a fantastic wee boy. Sleeps well, eats anything and everything and is great company.

No real issues with development but I suppose the cerebral stuff has always been ahead of his motor stuff -so he's a bit of a thinker, good concentration for playing, "reading", really good language (always has people thinking he's much older than he is) but had prolonged head lag, late to walk etc. Nothing to worry about really, Dad and I are clumsy geeks so he hasn't fallen far from the tree.

I've been trying to help him draw, makes marks etc. He seemed to be getting frustrated with crayons etc, so followed mn advice and got woody stabilos which are chunkier and make marks much easier. But now whenever we sit down to paint or draw he refuses and says, "mummy do it, mummy draw (x, y, z)". If I suggest he try he gets upset and says "I can't do it". He seems so sad. Sometimes he will want to draw and say "I draw planets" and then has a scribble but before I have the chance to offer any praise he seems to be immediately disappointed that he didn't get on paper what I assume he had in his mind and starts saying "I can't do it!". He seems so incredibly sad at these times, more than the usual wobbly lip when told he can't hit the cat or have cake!

Breaks my heart, and wonder if anyone with more parenting experience than me has any advice to offer as to how I can gently continue to encourage him with drawing.

NoComet Fri 03-Jan-14 00:16:08

Non at all DD2 was and is at 12 like this.
She very, very rarely draws, never did. She gets really really frustrated if it doesn't look like she wants it to.

She was in tears in a Y4 art lesson over a daffodil (DD2 is not an emotional child, she wouldn't cry in school except if she hurt herself).

It's very frustrating, because she can draw and very occasionally does Manga style stuff if no one is looking.

What she does like is computer graphics, she's brilliant at power points and fancy title pages. Basically things that do look like she's imagined them, but she is a total control freak.

Toecheese Fri 03-Jan-14 08:20:52

My eldest hated drawing and painting up till the age of 7. At infant school he hardly wrote despite being a total bookworm and free reader early in year 1. It was definitely linked into a dislike/disinterest in fine motor skills. It completely changed one we hit juniors. He is very creatively able with writing and art.

Son 3 (almost 3) likes us to draw and has an amazing imagination. Initially he told us what to draw and we would just draw it and gave fun. after a while he started drawing himself and draws lots now without care.

Toecheese Fri 03-Jan-14 08:22:48

Can you let him lead the drawing and suggest things for you to draw? Make sure you have fun and don't care if you go wrong. Lead by example

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 03-Jan-14 08:28:32

Do you have any touch screen computers/ tablets?

DD is the youngest and first of my three to enjoy early mark making and I think its because she understood it and could do it herself on the PC. She loves paint and colouring in cbeebies pics, thomas the tank engine online, the dreaded Peppa Pig on the nickelodean web site, drawing glasses and hats on screen shots of herself/ brothers/ me/ her dad.

It progressed on to drawing/ painting/ crayoning on paper.

DeathMetalMum Fri 03-Jan-14 10:05:58

What about colouring rather than drawing? It will still give hime the right skills to draw when he is older and ready. It sounds as though he is upset that he can't draw the same as you can and doesn't want to 'fail' at something. (sorry don't quite mean fail but can not thing of the word right now).

Maybe stick with some colouring in books where ds can scribble and you scribble/colour in on the other page. It may also be that colouring/drawing isn't for him. Db (now 16) will still do anything to avoid colouring in or anything arts and crafts related.

MrsCaptainReynolds Fri 03-Jan-14 10:10:26

Thanks for the ideas. Drawing on tablet isn't an issue, he'll do this quite happily. I've been thinking that he finds this more satisfying and I might need to hide the ipad for a while to develop his pen/ paper skills.

I'm not really concerned about his artistic skills but I've assumed (maybe wrongly) that this is the first step to writing.

He seems to be a bit of an anomoly at nursery - a boy who'll sit and flick through books and have a conversation, while his peers are running around, climbing up steps to go down the slide etc (independently -something he can't really do yet). I try not to be troubled by this, we're all different, but the motor skills for writing and drawing are so important, especially when it seems to upset him.

The other thing is that he doesn't seem to have picked a hand yet -Dad's a leftie and although I'm right handed I have an odd pengrip. So we've left him to it a bit to see what he does. So far there's no obvious dominant hand.

stargirl1701 Fri 03-Jan-14 10:11:59

You need to improve his fine motor control. Have you read anything about Montessori from birth philosophy? Are you on Pinterest? Try searching for Montessori Fine Motor activities for toddlers.

You can buy equipment

but Pinterest will show you how to make your own with less expense grin

MrsCaptainReynolds Fri 03-Jan-14 10:13:20

Deathmetalmum I think that's it exactly, though I've no idea where he got this sense of "failure" from. Colouring books are a good idea, especially if I scribble alongside him and show him thatkeeping to the lines doesn't matter.

Artandco Fri 03-Jan-14 10:14:34

Get some felt pens. Mine love drawing but do find pencils/ crayons a bit of a pain at 2 as you have to push hard to gt a dark enough line. Only now at 4 does elder like them. Crayola sell washable pens

SpiderStacy Fri 03-Jan-14 10:27:01

Would he be happier with chalks which can be easily erased? Small children sometimes like to work on a big scale - huge pieces of paper and paints, chalking on pavements - because their fine motor skills are still developing and they work more from the shoulder and arm rather than wrist and fingers. My son refused to draw but loved 3d craft projects which are also good for dexterity.

DeathMetalMum Fri 03-Jan-14 10:35:01

I think when dd was that age drawing for us consisted of circles, zig zags, wavy lines, spirals - things dd would be able to copy with some . I would also do pictures but very basic a snake, a house, snail etc. When she got a bit older 2.6+ I would draw a circle and she would do marks for eyes, hair nose etc, though you couldn't actually tell what it was. I will add that dd would choose to colour/draw over most other activities though so I never had to encourage her to try.

MyNameIsKenAdams Fri 03-Jan-14 10:48:30

What about a Magna Doodle? techy enough to appeal but relies on pen and stampers to draw. Can also be wiped clean quickly.

trolleycoin Fri 03-Jan-14 10:51:20

Yes to the Crayola washable felt tip pens. DS (aged 2) loves them and although he will use crayons, he prefers the pens as I think its because the image that he imagines in his head is easier to get on paper with pens than chunky little crayons.

Also have you seen Squiglet on Cbeebies? My drawing skills are usually naff but its taught me how to draw loads of things, never mind DS!

There are plenty of books to help with writing/drawing but they might be a bit formal and boring for him, especially if he is feeling down about it.

Other ideas are spirograph, finger paints, stampers with an image that he can then colour in or a magna doodle thing. DS got one for Christmas (cheap one from Tesco) and it has a stylus pen thing and stamps.

sewingandcakes Fri 03-Jan-14 10:59:56

Ds1 (8) has trouble with writing and gets to use a laptop at school as it avoids frustration and disruptive behaviour. He never really drew pictures or enjoyed colouring as a toddler.

I have been told that encouraging large movements, starting from the shoulder, can help. You could try holding his arm from behind him, with a stick in his hand, and making large, sweeping movements in leaves, mud, or sand. Then when you have helped him make some different shapes, encourage him to do it himself, making the movements from his shoulder. As he gets more confident, he can refine the movements more, so they're coming from his elbow, then his wrist. I think the key would be making it into a game.

I hope this helps!

NoComet Fri 03-Jan-14 11:07:11

No link to writing in this house.

Hates drawing and art DD2 has has had neater writing than anyone else in the house since she was five. (ok that's not difficult as DD1and I are dyslexic and DH's looks like a stoned spider has fallen in the ink ).

MiaowTheCat Fri 03-Jan-14 12:39:54

Whiteboards? If it's the idea of doing it "wrong" that's getting to him - something less permanent sometimes helps reluctant perfectionist writers when they get up to school age.

Or painting with water on the path outside - kids seem to really go for that but it's a self-cleaning up activity when it all evaporates.

Other than that - things that are sneaky mark making like trays with glitter in to make tracks in work quite well (lots of schools and nurseries use new-bought, ie. not used ever, small cat litter trays to get ones with edges on quite cheaply), cornflour and water also makes quite an interesting gloop to mark make in (but is messy as hell to clean up - I always ended up wearing most of it).

Goldmandra Fri 03-Jan-14 13:36:29

Forget sitting down to draw and forget pens/pencils/crayons.

Give him a bucket of water, a paintbrush and a wall or fence. Give him balls to throw, ribbons to swirl, playdough, gloop, moonsand, finger paints, pastry to cut out, water play etc. and lots of other activities that require big movements because he needs to develop that sort of control before he is ready for the very fine skills required to hold a pen.

He really is very young to be trying to hold anything like a pen. He will find it fun when he is ready to do it. In the meantime encourage him to make marks in other ways.

tethersend Fri 03-Jan-14 13:43:32

Agree with Goldmandra.

I used to be an art teacher; you cannot make him enjoy art, but you can encourage him by widening his concept of what art is; never force him to do art, and try and move away from art as representation. So no colouring in, 'what does this look like?' Or 'draw a circle. Add hair' etc. Think of it as a process, which is what he will be assessed on later in his school life, rather than an end product. Use collage, clay, printing, marbling, paint etc, and just let him play, rather than trying to labour over making a 'picture'. Try putting old bedsheets in the garden and squirt paint over them from squeezy bottles- anything fun where the end result is not important.

I really wouldn't worry about him not wanting to draw, as learning to draw as an adult/at secondary school involves 'unlearning' much of what was 'learned' as a child (make it neat, colour it in etc). The main thing is that he enjoys the process- if he doesn't, don't force him as this will be counter productive. Colouring in particularly is the work of the devil- it is the very worst activity you can do to develop artistic ability and enjoyment IMO. (Try The Anti-Colouring book for some good structured activities which build confidence) He may grow to enjoy art, he may not. Don't worry about it smile

MrsCaptainReynolds Fri 03-Jan-14 14:23:19

Thanks, lots of great suggestions here. I think he'd really like a magnadoodle, and I think upscaling things would be good though we're very weather dependent (Highlands -not just a case of wrapping up warm but making sure we can stand upright!).

I've never been one for encouraging him to colour between the lines or to draw specific things, I've been more into just seeing what he does, commenting on the colours he uses etc. The high standards seem to come from him. I'm kind of an exacting kind of person (colouring outside the lines makes me squirm) so I very consciously and deliberately avoid being like this with him. Perhaps you can't really hide these things and he does know!

Today, having the whole day to ourselves we've just been playing with his new Xmas toys. He announced that he wanted to draw planets (he has two obsessions: dinosaurs and planets). So we sat down with lots of paper and pens, crayons, colour pencils etc. He then asked me to draw the planets -I drew some circles and encouraged him to colour them. He didn't want to so I started colouring. Then he got really upset, "I can't mummy, I can't do it!" I was really as relaxed as I could possibly be, I don't know where his distress came from. He then said he wanted to paint. This time he asked me to cut the planets out and he'd paint them. We had a lovely 20 mins or so with him slapping paint all over them while I sat by painting a sun. We strung them up across the dining room to let them dry, once he decided each planet was finished. I said they were fabulous, brilliant colours etc, wouldn't Daddy get a suprise when he came home....suddenly he was distraught again, "they're NOT good, mummy, NOT good" and then kept going on about having painted Mars orange when it should be red (?!?!). He remained quite upset and fractious for another 20 mins or so, and did some pretend falls (for cuddles).

I realise this is a lot of detail, but this is really an isolated issue that is so out of character otherwise, I really appreciate thoughts on what is going on.

He is a fantastic collector of facts, just like his geeky dad who has probably read everything on wikipedia. I wonder if his collecting of facts is undoing him i.e. knowing Mars is red and not tolerating having happily painted it another colour. My stepMIL was telling me at Xmas how difficult it was for her to cope with my fact hungry DH when she came into his life.

(he's just brought me two round cushions and said "this is Jupiter and Io mummy" I said "Io?" He then informed me that "Io is one of Jupiter's moons" I'm sure he's right but seriously?)


Play with fingerpaints and stamping

We can also do some big drawing/marking on the beach when the wind dies down (we live by the beach, not a special trip).

I'll have a look through the montessori stuff later this evening and see what I can be making to help.

Goldmandra Fri 03-Jan-14 14:34:39

He sounds very like my DD2 who has AS in terms of getting upset about things not being perfect. I found that I could help her by only offering very abstract activities e.g. blow pens to make patterns so there were no lines to keep within and other unstructured activities. I'm a childminder and I have lots of craft kits but she can't do them because they never look factory perfect. Mud pies in the garden are much more relaxing for her.

TwerkingNineToFive Fri 03-Jan-14 14:39:39

I read somewhere that that young children like the process of drawing and painting rather than the final result. Maybe take the pressure off drawing anything 'proper' and just mark making, stamps, rollers and glitter etc.

MrsCaptainReynolds Fri 03-Jan-14 14:46:59

Yes I need to think unstructured even though it's out of character for me!

DH and I are, as I said, geeks. We both score very highly for autistic traits and have been fairly academic. We don't think he has a condition or characteristics of any clinical significance but we probably do have to remember he will have inherited these traits and tips from parents with AS/ASD traits are very welcome.

MrsCaptainReynolds Fri 03-Jan-14 14:48:54

Thanks twerking. I probably have been making it about the product rather than the process, unintentionally, by heaping on the praise at the end rather than making positive comments during. That's a good tip (and the sort of clear plan my DH will appreciate).

tethersend Fri 03-Jan-14 15:01:17

Yy to process not result- as I said earlier, this is what he will be assessed on later at school.

I would get som marbling inks- here and have a lovely time dropping circles of paper in to the painty water. The fact that they may or may not end up looking like planets is neither here nor there wink

He may also enjoy mixing paint with water and a dash of washing up liquid in bowls/cups and blowing with straws. Once you have coloured bubbles, you can press paper gently on top to make a 'print'. Again, the paper is a by-product, not the purpose of the activity.

Well done for encouraging him, keep plugging away with the idea that there is no 'right' result, and the message will get through.

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