Mini Monets and Mommies: Help! My Child Hates Art!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Help! My Child Hates Art!

In my years as both a mom and an arts educator I’ve heard many parents says something along the lines of, “But, my child just doesn’t want to make art. Aren’t all kids supposed to like doing that kind of stuff?”
Crafting Kids

Simply said, no – not all kids enjoy making art. Artsy activities have benefits galore that include:

·         Building pre-writing skills

·         Improving fine motor development

·         Inspiring critical thinking

·         Developing spatial awareness

·         Boosting creativity

That said, your child won’t suffer developmentally if she never paints a portrait or makes a paper mache masterpiece.

Here are some of the top questions/problems that I’ve heard along with a few simple answers:

My child won’t make art at home, should I sign her up for a class to encourage her?

No, and yes. I do believe that exposing a young child to new experiences is beneficial, but you need to weigh the pros and cons. It’s kind of like eating a new food – if you child’s never tried it, how does she really know that she doesn’t like it? With that in mind, if your child has tried art (and tried it, and tried it some more) and still resists, don’t force her into a class just because you think she has true talent or because you’re rather crafty yourself. In my professional practice teaching preschoolers at a museum, I found that the kids who were forced into an art class ended up building up even more of a dislike for it.

Aren’t all kids supposed to like art? Is there something wrong with my child?

No and no. Think about your own likes and dislikes. Do you like everything? Of course not. Neither does your child. While your neighbor’s 4-year-old may get giddy at the sight of a paintbrush, your child may prefer soccer, dance, gymnastics or playing violin. Your child is unique. Don’t force her into being someone who she isn’t.

How will my child learn to write if she doesn’t scribble as a tot?

Yes, it’s true that making marks during art experiences can help when it comes to pre-writing, but that doesn’t mean your child has to draw all of the time in order to build these skills. If she’s just not into “drawing” a picture, try something more straightforward such as tracing letters.

What about her fine motor development?

There are tons of non-art ways for your child to build her finger and hand skills that go beyond drawing and painting. Building with blocks, lacing games, everyday activities such as zippering her coat and scooping through sand or sensory bins with rice can help your child develop dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

My child wouldn’t pick up a crayon even if I bribed her with a cookie. Does that mean she hates all art?

Probably not. Possibly, but you shouldn’t generalize based on one specific process. Just because your child doesn’t want to draw doesn’t mean that she won’t enjoy making a torn paper collage, sculpting with clay or finger painting.

Motor Development
I would really like my child to work on her writing. Is there any way to get her to write letters other than using a drawing activity?

Sure! She can paint her letters or even use finger print dots to make the letter lines. She can use a craft stick or toothpick to write letters in foam and print them paint (making her own stamper) or collage a mega-sized letter using tissue paper pieces. She can also try "finger painting" with modeling clay (have her spread clay across paper similar to the finger-paint process), making an alphabet sculpture or making a tape resist letter painting.

Kids' art

Kids' crafts

Even though you might want to help your child become the artist that you know she is, pushing her isn’t the way to go. Keep in mind that she needs to explore her creative side on her own terms. Don’t worry if she suddenly stops wanting to make craft projects. My son love, love, love, loved chicken nuggets, and then at age four decided they were a no go. Kids change, go through phases and get temporarily picky at time. Be patient and let your child take the lead. While you might be artsy to the max, she may find a different path to follow!


  1. I majored in art in college, so I am thankful all my kids have enjoyed art! I think a good suggestion is to just try a different art form. One of my daughters is very good with crayons and pencils, while her twin sister is much more meticulous with watercolors. For a different child clay/play-doh might spark more of their interest. And don't forget to do art WITH them. Generally seems to make it much more enjoyable for them. Draw them a picture. Create something yourself!

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