Nothing like getting out the craft supplies, actually managing to get everyone to the table and *finally* starting a craft project, only to to wind up with arguing kids. Not. Fun. Here’s how Cerys, a mom to two young kids and author of the kids crafting and activity blog Rainy Day Mum, helps prevent arguments during a craft. ~Alissa
Kids. Craft. Arguments. ::sigh::
Picture the scene:
It’s art and craft time in our house – a 2 year old and a 3 year old ready to go and we sit down at the table and then everything erupts as the two argue and squabble over the dot markers, the crayons that I put out and even the paper.
Now I’m normally a fairly easy going crafter with my kids but this was one thing that pushed me over the edge and I turned into Shouty Mom – you know, the one that swears that they will never craft again with the two at the same time?
However, I’ve changed. I sat down after a particularly bad session and worked out how I could get crafting with two or more (we have crafty playdates) to work without the squabbles and arguments – or at least to greatly reduce them and believe me it is possible.
Peaceful crafting with more than one kid…
Two of everything
My top tip, and this is the only thing I do this for, is that we have at least double of everything – we have two sets of paint brushes, two sets of pens, crayons, pencils and paints.
We don’t do this for toys or equipment – normally the children need to learn how to share and work together, but my two sets of crafting equipment is due to the way that the two use them differently.
Different Ages, Different Personalities, Different Needs
J, my 3 year old, is a careful crafter. He has gone past the splat-the-paint-on and use-the-paint-brush-like-a-fly-swat (yes we went through a phase like that…) His pens aren’t allowed to mix and get dirty with other colours on the nibs and he loves to sharpen the pencils so he has a nice set to use.
T, the 2 year old, is the other end of the spectrum.
Her favorite color to paint with at the moment is a purpley brown that comes from blending all of the available paints together. This will not do AT ALL for mister Careful Crafter.
Now, I don’t always go to extremes to give them their own entire sets of art supplies – but for the most part, there is no point having them share equipment.
You can see how annoyed the 3 year would get with the way that the 2 year old paints (mind you so would I, and I have to sit on my hands as her art work turns out purpley brown yet again).
Try working on something BIGGER
We also often enjoy crafting together on bigger pieces like the Double Decker bus. It was big enough to sit on and gave plenty of space for both children to express themselves.
Sometimes you might limit choices
In the case of the Double Decker Bus, for instance, we had separate paint dishes more for ease of reaching the paint than to stop arguments, because I only provided 1 colour which reduced the arguments over mixed up paints.
This could just mean putting out a few less supplies – especially for younger children, sometimes having less to choose from can mean less stress and thus less likelihood of erupting into argument.
Crafting with more than one child without tears is possible – just needs a little forward thinking and a bit more preparation. Providing enough space and a separate set of equipment are the keys for us at this moment in time. Do you have any tips to add?
Alissa Zorn is an author, and founder of the website Overthought This. She's a coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa is certified through the International Coach Federation and got her Trauma-Informed Coaching certification from Moving the Human Spirit. She wrote Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection, and is always following curiosity to find her next creative endeavor.