These 20 mistakes parents make with arts, crafts, and STEM activities are easily correctable and, frankly, part of why parents hate doing these activities so much.
Yes, we know arts, crafts, and especially STEM activities are great for our child’s development both academically and socially.
It doesn’t matter how much good research we have found about them, they are still something we totally mess up.
But it’s ok.
Once you’ve identified these 20 mistakes parents make with arts, crafts, and STEM activities, you can totally do them stress-free and know that you’re letting the kids learn the right way.
20 Mistakes Parents Make with Arts, Crafts, and STEM Activities
- We can never get the tip of the glue cut right. It is inevitable that the glue is going to squirt out all over the craft or table or someone’s face. The solution: It’s not about the tip. That stuff is designed to be messy–just let it go and go on with the activity. This is a little thing–don’t make a mountain out of a mole-hill.
- We literally have no creativity left. That ship sailed after we found out we were going to be parents. Like seriously, what do I even do with a cotton ball?! The solution: That’s ok. This is not about you. It’s about your kid. Let them be the creative one.
- We can’t follow directions. While one kid is delving into the glitter and putting it in their hair and the other is squirting glue on our table, some of the directions get skipped. The solution: You can stress about all the steps being skipped or half-done, or you can acknowledge that your kid’s craft is their own. They’ll learn the lesson about how important it is to follow the steps after their craft comes out looking like crap–but not if you get all the steps right because you nagged/yelled them into it.
- We have to help with everything. Why is it that kids never want to do an art, craft, or STEM activity that they are capable of doing independently? The solution: They’re capable of a lot more than you (or they) give them credit for. You put them in charge of it, you walk away, check your phone, whatever. But encourage them to do it, don’t do it for them.
- We feel like we are the ones learning. The kids don’t care about all the neat stuff you are trying to point out. It’s like mom just shut up so I can have a glitter party..ok? The solution: Keep telling them the cool things, but if they want to get to the glittery part, do the glittery part. That’s ok. I’ve learned that kids seem to absorb more than we think they are.
- We have to do ALL the cleanup. By the time we get our kids through every part of the project, the focus to help clean up is gone. So, instead, us parents are the ones who have to clean it up. The solution: Never do the clean-up alone. Insist that your kids help clean-up. Let them know that it’s just part of the activity. And make them help–this is non-negotiable.
- We deal with the complainers. Who wants to do arts, crafts and STEM activities while a child is complaining the entire time that they are bored. Like seriously?! I am trying to keep you entertained. The solution: Maybe you need to have a talk with yourself. Let the kid be in charge of the activity and maybe they won’t be bored. Or maybe they want to do something different. Forcing these activities on kids can totally be boring to them–so let them pick the activity. Let them surf Pinterest with you for ideas. Put them in charge.
- We deal with the whiners. I don’t know about you, but whining goes through my head like a bound of bricks hitting it. “I’m hungry.” “I’m tired.” “I don’t want to.” He won’t give me the scissors.” “I wanted that color.” “No, it’s mine.” The solution: Seriously, this is where you have that talk with junior. No one should have to be tortured by this. You can choose to offer the kiddo an apple. Or a time-out. Or you can tell them that you’re done listening to the whining and you’re putting in headphones. But this is the older-kiddo version of the 2-year old tantrum. You don’t have to put up with it. You can modify their behavior.
- We deal with the “I can’t do this!” We all have that one child who can’t do anything. Seriously, they won’t even try. You have to spend an hour just getting them to believe they can put one drop of glue on the back of their popsicle stick. The solution: This is another toddler-tantrum, though less of a big deal. You can go the route of the time-out, or you can say “well, I guess it won’t get done then.” Either way, you shorten the time spent on the “I can’t” by NOT DOING IT FOR THEM.
- We deal with the kids who want to be on a screen. It doesn’t matter what you try to do, if you try to take away the screen, its over. These kids are addicted to their screen time. The solution: This is one of those “behavior modification” moments. They don’t want to do the STEM activity? Fine, they can pick another one, or read a book. But they’re not getting a screen. They pitch a fit over that? Time-out. Don’t give in. You’re just reinforcing that they “need” a screen.
- We don’t inspire creativity. As parents, when we are given a craft or activity, we try to follow it to a T. Well, making our kids do this too often inhibits their creative abilities. The solution: Put them in charge. Don’t follow the directions, if you’re working alongside them. And let them lead.
- We don’t know which direction is width wise or which direction is length wise. We knew it as hamburger or hotdog folds. Come on now! The solution: Let the kid figure it out! If you seriously don’t know–give it a try. You can’t cook an omelet without breaking some eggs.
- We will forever find Googol eyes all over the house. Those things are almost impossible to get on the actual craft. After losing 25 of them, you finally get a one-eyed flying purple people eater. The solution: Be happy that you’ll be 80, cleaning up the house and find a googol eye in a corner crevice. This shall pass–and you’ll be sad it’s gone.
- We look like we went to the strip club Monday morning. You can be as careful as possible, but if you use glitter, it will be in every crevice of your house and body. People are going to ask where you went this weekend! The solution: To glitter or not to glitter is each parent’s prerogative. I love it. I feel like it’s worth the on-going mess. But if you don’t, don’t. Don’t let glitter stop a project from happening–just exclude the glitter.
- We feel like they get technology. Does technology really have to be taught with STEM? Our kids knew how to get on Youtube the day they came out of the womb. We don’t need any more technology skills. The solution: Slap yourself. They need more. They need all of it. They need a chance to be comfortable with it. Because it will be the set of tools with which they build more in the future.
- We have enough going on. Adding one more thing to our plate is going to set us over the edge. We already have too much to think about let alone arts, crafts, and STEM activities. The solution: This may be true. But, what do you have all of those things going on FOR? The correct answer is: the kids. You should set aside time with them to be their teacher–because you are their parent and you do everything you do for them.
- We hate using glue. The problem is that glue never sticks where you want it to stick. You want the cotton balls stuck to the sky as clouds and they fall off. However, if you don’t want the glue stuck to your table, you are going to have to scrape it off with a butter knife. The solution: Cover the table in cling wrap and get better glue. Glue sticks suck. Get some Elmers.
- We have to display the artwork for at least 3-days. We are such great parents that even though the artwork looks like a donkey’s butt, we display it for the whole world to see just to make our kids happy. This is a 3-day process of looking at donkey’s butt. The solution: be proud of that donkey’s butt. Make a folder with all that. It makes your kid happy. Give it to grandma. That’ll make your kid even more happy.
- We have to do what our kids like. Maybe I want the cool science STEM kit, to color whimsical coloring pages, or make patio stones for our backyard. Nope, kids want to make paper confetti by cutting pieces of paper up into microscopic pieces. The solution: You do what you want to do and let them do what they want. They’ll get interested in what you want, trust me. It may take a time or two, but the kid does want to do stuff with you.
- We just want a glass of mojito instead! Arts, crafts, and STEM activities can be stressful, especially if you’re a control-freak like I am, so get out your glass of mojito before you even start. The solution: seriously, get a mojito before you start.
Parents have a love/hate relationship when it comes to arts, crafts, and STEM activities.
Do you love them or do you hate them? Share how you feel in the comments below!
And don’t forget to pin this so that you have that little occasional reminder that it’s ok to get a little messy.