How to help your child through their drawing frustrations

Children are creative beings, and sometimes a lot of children have the idea in their head that they are not artists because they can’t draw well. I like to tell my students that if they make art, then they are artists. But as parents or teachers, we need to understand that children, just like adults, can get frustrated with their work if it doesn’t turn out the way they had imagined in their heads. A lot of times too, children will compare their work to that of others, telling themselves that other children are doing a much better job. Helping a child overcome their frustration and finish the artwork can be a tricky job, but these tips might help

  • We are all creative in our own ways, so when children start to compare their work with others, sometimes it helps to remind them that there are no mistakes in art and there is no better or worse. We all have different ways of expressing ourselves and our artworks should be just as unique as we are. We may all be doing the same project, but each result will come out differently because we are different people.

  • Some children will have a higher standard for their work, while others won’t. No matter what standard they hold their work against, children will always have an emotional reaction to their work. Be positive and be gentle, the children will pick up on it and react accordingly

  • When children have high expectations and get frustrated with their work, sometimes it helps to take a break from that particular project and focus on something else.

  • Always make sure the lesson is age appropriate. Please don’t try a lesson designed for age 10 or 12 with a 6 or 8 year old, no matter how advanced you think your child may be. Oftentimes, that’s just setting them up for failure, frustration or at the very least boredom with the art project. Don’t be afraid to create projects initially meant for younger ages, children will never get bored or feel a lesson is too young, they will adapt

  • Have some simple rules and stick with them. In our classrooms, for instance, we use the one paper per student rule. That rule is designed to help the children learn to work with their mistakes. Oftentimes, children will be too quick to give up and want to start over without even trying.

  • When a child makes a mistake, encourage them to get creative with fixing said mistake. Turn it into a creative art challenge and applaud them for how they worked with and incorporated the mistake into their artwork.

  • Don’t be afraid to push students either. Oftentimes children will rush to finish an artwork, especially if they are frustrated with how it’s turning out. Encourage them to slow down, add details, finish the artwork, they might just like how it turns out in the end

  • When young children make a mistake, encourage them to keep going. Tell them to follow along as best as they can and if in the end they still don’t like the artwork, they can turn the paper over and start over. Oftentimes, once they are done drawing and it’s time to paint, they will not want to start again and will instead be happy with their artwork

  • Ask questions about what the child doesn’t like about the artwork and think of ways to fix it before throwing out the artwork. Sometimes, telling the child that the artwork looks fine as it is can be frustrating, instead think of ways or creative solutions to fix the problem and let the child choose one.


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