What can we do when our child refuses to even ‘have a go’ at a creative activity that’s been offered to them? Are you losing the battle to get them exploring their creative talents? Is it just easier to resign yourself to the fact that your child is never going to set the art world on fire, or even just experience the joy and satisfaction of producing something uniquely her own?
It’s possible that it’s a lack of confidence that is standing in her way and holding your child back. Confidence is important in all aspects of life, but especially in art. The creative process comes from within, and if her self-confidence is weak then she is destined to fail and become uncooperative from the start. Maybe she is comparing herself to someone else , or has overheard unkind comments from others around her. Every experience should be viewed as a learning experience, no matter the outcome. This includes the times when Sasha says her work is ‘Rubbish! ‘ or ‘I hate painting!’ . We can gently explain that we all grow artistically through every experience. We must learn what doesn’t work before we can apply what we know will work. So, each time we are unhappy with what we produce , we grow. And this takes time.
Michelangelo once said, “If people knew how hard I had to work to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
Mastery takes time: When we look at a master artist, we only see the end result and the confidence that they have developed. We don’t see all of the “failures” that helped build their confidence.
While it’s perfectly acceptable to be influenced by other artists, it’s important that children ( and budding adult artists) do not to lose sight of the fact that you are not them. If you start to compare yourself to others, you quickly lose sight of your unique artistic identity. Sasha’s best friend might be ‘better’ at art, but Sasha needs to understand that her own work has its own value that is unique to her. As individuals we should embrace our differences. As artists, we should do the same. So, helping her to value her own ‘voice’ artistically is a great way to develop confidence. At the same time, we need to balance valuing her work with offering authentic praise: In every attempt made, try to find something positive to say that recognises the effort made rather than focusing on the perfect creation. Research tells us that we need to praise effort rather than natural ability:
· Sasha I love the way you really concentrated on the shape of that butterfly: It looks so real! ( This recognises that effort has produced a good outcome).
· Sasha you’re a natural, you are just so clever with your reading !(This implies that the outcome was not dependent on any effort Sasha has to make. It gives her the message that she is ‘good’ at reading and ‘not good’ at art, so there is no point in trying).
· So, the road to self-confidence might be a little rocky along the way, but if we can coach Sasha to take pride in developing her skills as an artist, we are helping her to nurture a potentially life-long and satisfying interest.
We hope you enjoyed this blog. Stay tuned next week for our next edition. As always, if you would like to book a trial class for Dadi or Otto2, please get in touch.
You may also be interested in reading The Power of Positive Language and Clear Communication.
Developed for Dadi Mandarin and written by WOI.