My 4 year old can not draw anything - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 11-25-2013, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello everyone! I need some advice please.

 

I'm kind of torn between thinking it's ok and maybe there is something that needs my attention... Anyway, here is our story:

My son does not like to do things the way I tell him, especially when it comes to "art" projects. It's always been like that and I've tried again and again throughout his life. Just yesterday we sat down and I had a little pad with some "educational" games and riddles that I thought might be fun for him. In this case it was a puzzle. He could have just connected the two pieces (it was a 2 piece puzzle), but he requested to cut them out. Fine, I gave him a scissor. So, it's probably not the best example, but what he did was not cut along the edges of each picture (they were drawn in little squares) no, he needed to cut out the actual animal. Of course they were hard for him to cut out and he cut of the tail of the fish and decided he was done. As an end result, he never did the actual exercise, I had a ton of little pieces of paper to sweep of the floor and he was frustrated. :(  

To give you an overview of his abilities:

He can draw an ok circle, nothing else that resembles anything. No faces, no cars.

He can cut straight lines fairly well, but no curves

 

Is this normal? I can remember 2 year olds (girls) that were drawing perfect circles and triangulars on the pavement..

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#2 of 23 Old 11-25-2013, 01:12 PM
 
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Fine motor skills can be difficult and not enjoyable for some kids. Thoughts on how to increase fine motor and increase enjoyment:

 

Don't worry about the mess. There will be plenty of mess. 

 

Playdoh

 

tearing newsprint

 

snipping paper

 

cutting pictures out of magazines

 

finger painting

 

sorting small items, like buttons, beans, or sea shells

 

using tweasers to pick up cotton balls

 

lacing cards

 

tracing (rather than drawing) letters. shapes, etc

 

 

Based on my experience, it is completely normal to have a 4 year old boy who was uncomfortable with fine motor work. The key is setting up plenty of experiences to build skills, without any pressure to produce something "right".

 

Speaking of which, preschool art is about process, not product. Many times I'd watch my kids paint a picture. The painting was a medium to tell a story. by the time the story was finished, the painting itself looked a wreck, because it had been painted over many times. But the painting wasn't the point. The process of painting was. 

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#3 of 23 Old 11-25-2013, 05:26 PM
 
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That is normal, the two year olds were the unusual ones. I would just make supplies available and let him.use them however he wants to then have him.clean up afterwards. Some kids resistant purely because they want to be creative on their own without parental input.
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#4 of 23 Old 11-25-2013, 07:15 PM
 
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Cutting out is hard at that age. The drawing will probably come soon, he's a little on the late side from my experience but they do vary greatly.

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#5 of 23 Old 11-25-2013, 07:53 PM
 
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Normal, in a way.  Yes, those 2yos are not the ones to compare your son with!  That sounded more precocious, not typical.  My oldest was both headstrong as to how she would do things, and she would totally have cut out the animal instead of the line.  Even at 9 she still might.  She did not draw faces until 5.5, and even then they belonged to animals and monsters.  (She also played more with animals than dolls).  

 

One thing I did notice was that she had trouble with fine motor control in her hands.  I didn't notice at first because she simply didn't try to do what she thought she couldn't do.  It was around 4.5yo when I finally noticed this, because her 3yo sister started drawing faces eagerly (not as neatly as those 2yos!)  She resisted writing for a long time, but in our case we were homeschooling anyway and I was able to allow her to wait.  Homeschooling was also good, IMO, for her headstrong way of doing things, which worked perfectly well if you could just let go of what you think the point--the outcome-- of the activity is.  She did end up beginning to write and draw more enthusiastically around 6yo.  She is still slow and neat, but she does her work eagerly, if not that accurately.  Definitely not advanced for her age, but not so bad, either.


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#6 of 23 Old 11-26-2013, 12:48 AM
 
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I agree that while it is on the later side of is still well within the normal range. Fine motor skills can be hard esp. for boys. Don't worry about the drawing, that will come when it's ready just keep providing the opportunities.
For cutting could try the kumon cutting workbook. There is a 2+ one that it is nice. Starts with one straight line and progresses with each page.

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#7 of 23 Old 11-26-2013, 01:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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One thing I did notice was that she had trouble with fine motor control in her hands.  I didn't notice at first because she simply didn't try to do what she thought she couldn't do.  It was around 4.5yo when I finally noticed this, because her 3yo sister started drawing faces eagerly (not as neatly as those 2yos!)  She resisted writing for a long time, but in our case we were homeschooling anyway and I was able to allow her to wait.  Homeschooling was also good, IMO, for her headstrong way of doing things, which worked perfectly well if you could just let go of what you think the point--the outcome-- of the activity is.  She did end up beginning to write and draw more enthusiastically around 6yo.  She is still slow and neat, but she does her work eagerly, if not that accurately.  Definitely not advanced for her age, but not so bad, either.

Thanks for sharing this with me. I feel like, I have the only headstrong kid in town. You are lucky to be able to home school. We live in a country where kids have to go to kindergarden and then to school. There is no other option. Which really concerns me. He is a bright, funny and resourceful little guy and I'm really worried that his personality doesn't mash with school well. I'm hoping, by the time school starts ( 3 years for him) he will have matured or we can move back to the States.

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Originally Posted by onyxravnos View Post

I agree that while it is on the later side of is still well within the normal range. Fine motor skills can be hard esp. for boys. Don't worry about the drawing, that will come when it's ready just keep providing the opportunities.
For cutting could try the kumon cutting workbook. There is a 2+ one that it is nice. Starts with one straight line and progresses with each page.

 

Yes, we do have the kumon books. That's one reason why I'm concerned. I see the 2+ on the cover and him struggling with it.  The other thing is, he is super picky with his choices of work. He only likes certain things and they are mostly too difficult for him. If the kumon pages don't do a good trick, have a cool picture or can be used for a game, he won't do them. So, we have a bunch of pads lying around that he doesn't want to finish b/c he doesn't like the particular picture, etc.. Which also doesn't give him the satisfaction of finishing things and the lesson that you have to start small and work on it to improve your skills. Sorry for venting. I'm just so frustrated. If I would push him and tell him to start in the beginning and work his way through, he wouldn't do any and just walk away.

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#8 of 23 Old 11-26-2013, 01:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What I forgot to mention is, I don't think it's necessarily his fine motor skills unless there are different kinds I don't know about. He is very good and patient with his little pearls that one can iron together - no idea what they are called in English.

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#9 of 23 Old 11-26-2013, 07:03 AM
 
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I was worried when my son was not drawing as well as the others in his preschool class, even those who were 6 months younger.  I mentioned it to his teacher several times, but she told me she was sure he was okay and just developing at his own pace.  Turns out she was right.  When he realized that written words always say the same thing to those who can read them, he got very excited about learning to write so he could make signs, even though he couldn't read them.  Learning to write got him more interested in other shapes he could draw.  By the time he turned 5, he was drawing and writing as well as anyone his age, and soon after that he began to seem really quite skilled in art.  So it seems it was kind of like when he was a young toddler and I was worried that he was not pointing or waving bye-bye 6 months after the book said he should be doing these things--just an individual difference, not a sign of trouble.

 

For tasks that he attempts but finds he can't do, and then he's frustrated, even though it looks so clear to you that the whole problem is that he made it more challenging than it needed to be...my partner had a response that worked very well with our son: "That's tricky, isn't it?  You really want to cut out the fish, but it has all those little wiggles.  It takes lots of practice to cut a complicated line like that."  After a while our son would exclaim, "This is tricky for me!!" as he persisted in trying to do something--but saying that seemed to keep him cheerful while he kept trying.  Once he could do it, he would say proudly, "It takes lots of practice to learn to do that!" :)

 

The mess of little bits of paper might bother you less if you spread out a cloth for him to work on.  My son likes to sit on the floor while doing crafts, so we have him spread out a plastic tablecloth and sit on it.  This keeps glue, marker, etc. from getting on the floor, and when he's done we can pick up the edges and shake scraps to the middle for easy cleanup.

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#10 of 23 Old 11-26-2013, 07:57 AM
 
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What I forgot to mention is, I don't think it's necessarily his fine motor skills unless there are different kinds I don't know about. He is very good and patient with his little pearls that one can iron together - no idea what they are called in English.

Drawing and writing take fine motor skills to the next level.  You add in a bit of stubbornness and some perfectionism, and drawing can be difficult.  Kids like my daughter know they won't be able to reproduce what they want yet, so they avoid it.  Putting beads and legos together really doesn't compare when you think about it, though both do help strengthen those muscles.

 

Don't sweat the school thing.  3 years is EONS away for a 4yo.  Continue to be attentive to whats happening or not happening (but stop worrying), provide him with plenty of activities to play with, and let time and development work its magic, because it rarely fails.

 

Oh, and make sure his scissors are the good sharp kind.  Kindergarten scissors at least.  If you get frustrated cutting with them, he will too.  We still cut out pictures in catalogs to play with. 

 

And stop putting so much importance on those recommended ages.  


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#11 of 23 Old 11-26-2013, 08:16 AM
 
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My 4yo couldnt draw much either. At 5, he was a little better, but behind his peers (i didnt realize that intil i saw their drawings in a preschool exhibition) Now at 51/2, he's  right on track with fine motor skills. I didnt worry about it then, and im glad i didnt. They learn so  much in a short time...

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#12 of 23 Old 11-26-2013, 08:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post
 

Drawing and writing take fine motor skills to the next level.  You add in a bit of stubbornness and some perfectionism, and drawing can be difficult.  Kids like my daughter know they won't be able to reproduce what they want yet, so they avoid it.  Putting beads and legos together really doesn't compare when you think about it, though both do help strengthen those muscles.

 

Don't sweat the school thing.  3 years is EONS away for a 4yo.  Continue to be attentive to whats happening or not happening (but stop worrying), provide him with plenty of activities to play with, and let time and development work its magic, because it rarely fails.

 

Oh, and make sure his scissors are the good sharp kind.  Kindergarten scissors at least.  If you get frustrated cutting with them, he will too.  We still cut out pictures in catalogs to play with. 

 

And stop putting so much importance on those recommended ages.  

You are right. I'm a worrier with little patience what can I say. :innocent I think, I'm going to print your post out :D. He gets frustrated b/c he can't reproduce what he wants. Doesn't help either that I'm a painter and he sees what I can draw/paint and wants to do it too. So, when he gets frustrated next time I'm going to do what EnviroBecca suggested. Thank you!

Funny you mentioned the scissors. I've already thrown out a few because of their bad quality.

 

I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who has responded. It feels so good to ask a question and get so many helpful and thoughtful responses :flowersforyou

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#13 of 23 Old 11-26-2013, 10:15 PM
 
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For tasks that he attempts but finds he can't do, and then he's frustrated, even though it looks so clear to you that the whole problem is that he made it more challenging than it needed to be...my partner had a response that worked very well with our son: "That's tricky, isn't it?  You really want to cut out the fish, but it has all those little wiggles.  It takes lots of practice to cut a complicated line like that."  After a while our son would exclaim, "This is tricky for me!!" as he persisted in trying to do something--but saying that seemed to keep him cheerful while he kept trying.  Once he could do it, he would say proudly, "It takes lots of practice to learn to do that!" :)

 

Right on.  That's a great message.  Not that it's hard, but that it's a challenge.

 

Daisy, I have no idea if this applies to you, but ages ago I read this fantastic article about research done comparing what motivates kids to accomplish something rather than give up.  The gist of it was, kids who were praised for being smart eventually gave up faster and didn't do as  well on the challenges as kids who were praised for working hard and not giving up to figure something out.  

 

Sorry, I get all excited when this subject comes up so I have to share: 

 

http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=32124


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#14 of 23 Old 11-27-2013, 03:12 PM
 
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His skills seem very much within normal range for his age:
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#15 of 23 Old 12-01-2013, 10:45 AM
 
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It sounds like my son (who will be 4 in January) is about at the same level as your son, and honestly I've never thought twice about his (lack of) abilities. I know there are little girls his age who are drawing real scenes, but I also know it's something they really enjoy and spend a great deal of time doing. Even my 20 month old daughter will spend a couple hours a day "coloring", but my son just has no interest in that. He'd rather run around and play with his cars. I'm totally not at all worried about it.

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#16 of 23 Old 12-04-2013, 09:28 AM
 
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What worked for me and my daughter (who is four) is I have a little shelf on the wall right at her level next to the dining room table. On it I keep safety scissors, glue sticks, regular glue, crayons, washable markers, and colored pencils. I have the stuff stuck in cups on the shelf and the shelf is only a few inches deep so the cups are in a line and not hidden behind anything. (Kids will use it more if they see it.) I also have a stack of printer paper near by. My daughter has impressed me a lot with her drawings and I think a lot of it is due to the fact she is able to access it anytime and practice so much. Also I noticed one time when she was drawing a person and I talked about details she included them (like fingers) on that drawing she was working on, and also kept including them on subsequent drawings. She makes a ton of mess of though especially with she's cutting up stuff, and I have paper bin nearby to throw away large scraps of paper, I hope one day to get around to making our own paper :)  but I have to vacuum after she goes on cutting sprees. To me the mess is totally worth it because I'm a little OCD and trying not to teach her be OCD, also because her cutting skills are great. It's important to let them have blank paper, not coloring books, if you look in preschools most of them don't have coloring books. Blank paper is open ended and let's them practice drawing shapes, lines, letters, etc. Another good place to read at is Play At Home Mom LLC has a whole section about how they setup their room including art stuff. Good luck, let us know what you end up doing and if it works for you!

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#17 of 23 Old 12-04-2013, 12:03 PM
 
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Hello everyone! I need some advice please.

 

I'm kind of torn between thinking it's ok and maybe there is something that needs my attention... Anyway, here is our story:

My son does not like to do things the way I tell him, especially when it comes to "art" projects.

I bolded the part that looked interesting to me in your post. It seems to me that he does like "art projects" (as you mention he likes to cut), but he doesn't do it the "right" way.

My ds was the same at 4, and so is my dd. She can draw some stick people, but very irregular shaped.

On the other hand, she is very interested in writing. She cuts pieces of paper and scribbles on them and glues them together to "make books".

She also learned to write her name and most letters, although she is very adamant that I am not allowed to help her.

Just the other day, she wrote the first sentence: MAMA IS MY BEST FRIEND; after much negociation, she let me help her with the Y and the N.

 

I'd say, let your little one do whatever "project" he wants, be it drawing, cutting or writing and keep encouraging him. Have crayons, (washable) pencils, glue, paper and scissors at hand, in case the inspiration strikes.

 

But not all of us are meant to be artists :)

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#18 of 23 Old 12-06-2013, 06:58 AM
 
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You've hade tons of great replies and ideas, and I wanted to add another if that's ok!  We were in a very similar situation with my daughter.  In our case, one thing that has really helped is getting her Crayola Window drawing *crayons* (not the markers) and letting her use them on our (glass) patio door.  We also gave her a small squirt bottle and cloth so that she can wipe them off herself.  The crayons offer more resistance than the markers, and are thus easier to control.  The action of writing (and cleaning off also) on a vertical surface is good work for the muscles that stabilise the arm (important while writing).  Writing and cutting is considered a fine motor skill but there are also gross motor skills involved, especially in relation with shoulder stability.  

Also, like others said, sitting down to draw and write is not much fun when you are not good at it....but writing on the patio door.?  now that is fun to a 4 year old!!!

 

Keep at it!!!  

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#19 of 23 Old 12-07-2013, 03:06 PM
 
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My 4 year old couldn't draw - just a big circle and a bunch of scribbling.  She is now 4 1/2 years old and still not able to draw.  What she can do:  draw a circle and lines.  What I see all of her other 19 classmates do:  draw stick figure people with body, head, arms, legs.  Some draw even more elaborately.  Some color completely in the lines of a picture with multiple colors.  She only scribbles in the area of the main picture on the page.  She has had an early education evaluation and did not pass two of the five sections on the test and has qualified for special education services in our state.  At first I resisted anyone trying to 'judge' a 4 year old's coloring ability -> she just hasn't been interested.  But after seeing the preschool classmates and their ability and also seeing my 17 month old son show interest and drawing at about the same ability I am happy that we are having special services.  


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#20 of 23 Old 12-11-2013, 01:53 PM
 
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Sounds normal to me. It had not even occurred to me to worry about what and whether my eldest, now 9, was drawing at 4. With my DS who is now 6, he has only just barely turned 6, and only barely draws stick figures. It is ok! They grow in little quantum leaps...give it time, don't give in to the mass hysteria that every 4 year old is supposed to be what everyone says these days...those standards would have been laughed at in my childhood, because everyone knew they were developmentally inappropriate to expect of ALL kids (there was always that one who was ready that young, but not most kids) so young.

 

The "wait and see" approach is often helpful.


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#21 of 23 Old 12-18-2013, 11:25 AM
 
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Try Googling "stages of art development in children" and similar. 

http://www.users.totalise.co.uk/~kbroom/Lectures/children.htm is one good link that I found. 

 

I did a whole project on the stages of art in children a few years back when working on my Early Childhood Education degree, but I can't find the scanned version and the actual project is at my old house right now... 


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#22 of 23 Old 04-14-2014, 08:47 PM
 
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Just to make you feel better. My older son's preschool teacher told me his fine motor skills haven't developed... he now at 8 years old types meticulously and loves to do cursive. He is a budding artist, and when he refused to color things or do anything as directed, I never cared. His little brother is now five and I was certain he is not going to be the artist his brother is, because until very recently he just drew messes of lines. He amazed me with the stories that he could tell me about the lines... and it was more like once a month he cared to pick up a pen. but now all of a sudden he draws and paints every day and they look amazing. but try telling him HOW to... he will have his reason why HE likes to do it THIS way. And I would not want to kill that!

If your 4 year old prefers to try to cut the actual figure instead of the lines, then good job  for wanting to try harder, there's no way a normal, non prodigy child would NOT cut the tail off. 

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#23 of 23 Old 04-15-2014, 05:14 PM
 
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At three and a half to four my DS only drew intersecting lines. He is now 14 and this is one of his drawings, yes it is Gregory Peck LOL - he was studying to Kill a Mocking Bird.

 

 

 

 

What I am saying is this probably doesn't mean anything and he will get there. 

 

ETA: I would say by eight years old it was obvious he had some artistic talent. 


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