Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

Children Getting Messy


Guest
 Share

Recommended Posts

Here's a question - I've been pondering on this because of my little girl, who is almost three, and her response to art activities.

 

I recall from my teaching years (fourteen of them!) a handful of children who hated getting messy. One child in particular, I'll call him Tomas, wouldnt get his hands into anything remotely messy. I discovered that his mother was extremely houseproud, and had white carpets, white towels etc, so there was a reasonable explanation of why the little boy was almost phobic about mess.

 

I taught a few others who were not keen on mess, but none as particular as Tomas. Wehad to work a very tight IEP with him to help him to get more comfortable with practical activities and lose his fear of the art area.

 

Fast forward fourteen years, and here I am with my own little girl, who is almost as anti-mess as Tomas (who must be nineteen now, yikes). Now, I don't have white carpets, and I certainly don't have a very clean house (wish I did though!) I organise and offer her messy types of activities. But she just doesnt like it! Not even bath paints. She loves to direct me, and she loves to draw with crayons, chalk etc, and has very good motor skills, but simply will not put her hands in anything messy - not even wet sand.

 

This goes along with a very particular style of doing things - toys lined up and crayons arranged in straight lines in the tin. She definitely has her dad's engineering and mathematical tendencies. So a major part of this tidiness is coming from within, although her dad probably role models being organised and tidy too - although I role model the more 'creative' approach to life, so she gets a good balance!

 

So, I'm wondering what you would say as a practitioner to a parent of a child like mine. What might you assume if you had a child arrive in your setting who would refuse to touch anything that would entail washing hands afterwards? Would you be concerned, or would you just wait it out to see if the child developed more willingness to try these activities? What if he she didn't? How important do you see these activities? What might the child miss in terms of development if he or she never overcomes her reluctance to participate?

 

I'd be interested to hear what people think! It is fascinating me watching my children develop - it is so different when you're the parent not the practitioner! :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting question Nicola. I think most of us have at some time come across the child who hates to be wet or messy and as you say, it often stremms from parents not wanting them to get messy (oh how many mums Ive heard at the door say....'and dont go in the water,sand,paint, ...'). If you daughter is not yet 3, and possibly not at nursery yet?? I think there is plenty of time for her to develop at least some interest in some creative/messy activities. I have found in the past that children looking on (and they do look on) usually get stuck in eventually even if very tentative at first. I think the activities are as important as anything else they do- we would be concerned if a child went through school not wanting to do do maths or reading/writing (although we see it often), and usually encouragement does the trick. Out of interest,has she ever played with food, that's can be a stepping stone onto other things. Have you ever tried suggesting she wear gloves-would that help. Obviously its not worth forcing the issue, as she could well devlop a fear of messy things, but gentle encouragement now and then, role modelling by you and oher children and you may well see a different child in 12 months. Do let us know how you get on..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting point about food, Mundia. She's always been the same with food - everyone was amazed at her first birthday party when she wasn't the slightest bit interested in playing with a piece of birthday cake. No photo opportunity for the proud grandparents! I'd made a sugar free cake specially for the occasion, with yoghurt over it to look like cream, and she sat and stared at it as if we were mad. (My baby, on the other hand, couldn't be more different - I need to hose her off after each mealtime. :o )

 

Yes, she's too young for preschool. She could go in Sept, but the cut-off dates are different in the US so we have a choice between kindergarten in 2005 or 2006, so we're holding off preschool for a year, thinking that we'll send her later into K. I do lots of activities with her at home though and with friends. Just today, we had two of her friends to play, and they sat in the garden doing some gluing and painting. The other two mums stripped their children off and they got covered in paint, sequins, glue, feathers..... My little girl told me that there was no need to strip her off, and she was right. Her picture was immaculate, and there was not one speck of paint or glue on her or on the table where she'd worked at the end. I had to scrub down the other side of the table from the other children! If there is an activity that involves putting hands into a mess, she'll simply say she doesnt want to do it, and go off to play elsewhere. That's what is interesting, she is very interested in creative activities, and has concentration well beyond most of her peers, but not if it involves mess. It's like she's missed one developmental stage and wants to create a tidy, organised end product and dislikes the messy process. Her creations are more like those of a four or five year old than a chlid not yet three. Very careful and precise - maybe this is from her dad, who is an engineer.

 

As you say, maybe she'll be different in a year's time, we'll see.

 

But is she missing out developmentally from not having any tactile experiences? Do I need to draw up an IEP for her? (only joking about the second question, but vaguely wondering about the first!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi

 

I don't think there's anything wrong with not wanting to get messy...yet. If she's happy with chalks etc, then maybe she doesn't like the feel of paint or glue on her hands.

 

I teach children with special needs and we see a lot of this with our children, especially those who are autistic...and I'm not for one minute suggesting that your daughter is, it's just that I'm quite used to it!

 

I wouldn't worry. I think, as parents, we feel our children should be enjoying all these experiences and it may be that she is voting with her feet and likes to do things in a certain way. :o and I think Mudia's right, that modelling by you or her friends will show her what fun can be had, but also, that painting doesn't have to be messy. Try different paints, may be watercolours that are smaller and less gloopy and therefore less threatening and not as messy. Use glue stcks may be rather than PVA glue as this is very clean as far as glue gpoes.

 

Hope this helps!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Nicola,

If you're worried about lack of tactile experiences, how about playdough? That doesn't leave hands particularly messy. I wonder if your daughter would like other 3D modelling-type activities, using masking tape to fix things together? The other thing that springs to mind is playing with textiles; using hessian as a background for all sorts of creative activities with materials, sequins, seeds, etc. From what you say, she does experience lots of tactile, creative experiences with you, so I wouldn't worry about her not wanting to get messy.

Does she like washing her hands? It occurred to me that she may not; I had very sensitive skin as a child (and as an adult!!) and whenever I washed with soap and water, it felt like my skin had shrunk! If you managed to get hold of that soap that comes out as a frothy mass, she may like to play a game where she puts something messy on her hands, just to get to use the soap to wash it off again xD

Finally, my husband, two children and I are hideously messy, untidy people and see nothing wrong with your little girl being the opposite! I wish she lived with us as a role model! :D:o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Helen, I was a very messy child, so I am astonished to have such a tidy one!

 

Yes, she does like playdough. This is the only tactile experience that she has, although this too is highly organised and tidy. She spends a lot of time instructing me to make things, usually letters so that she can spell words.

 

Having said that, we spent this week in LA on the beach, and she got covered in sand! This bothered her until she realised that the sea washed it off. She didn't like going in the sea (there was some very big surf) but organised a big bucket of water to be kept nearby so she could regularly go and wash the sand off her hands and feet. xD But she did get messy, so it was a step in the right direction. I now have an idea about her sandpit, which she rarely uses, and am going to organise her with a bucket of water so she can get messy and wash it off again. I may then extend this to when we do art activities, to see if that helps.

 

Great idea about masking tape, I hadn't thought of using tape. She manages glue in a squeezy bottle and is meticulous in its use, but if a drop gets on her, that tends to be the end of the activity.

 

I'm sure one day I shall be really pleased to have a tidy child, but it's not my image of the early years! Now, my one-year-old seems to be headed in the completely opposite direction - mess doesn't bother her one bit. :o She likes to get stuck into the paints and playdough, including eating it. I have no idea how much sand she ate last week, and if she shakes her head, you hear the sand hit the floor - her ears are still full of it. :D:D:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think we all need to accept, and respect, the fact that we are all different. Some of us like messy activities and some of us don't. Equally there are some messy activities we partake in and some we don't. Why worry? I love providing messy activities for children in our setting - mainly because I know a lot of children don't get the opportunity at home (and as a parent I accept other parent's unwillingness to have playdough or paint stuck in their carpet!).

 

So some children love to cover their hands in paint and others don't; some love the feel of cornflour mixed with water and others won't touch it. Don't let's make a big issue of it - I like to feel cornflour; wet/dry sand; playdough but prefer paint on a brush and hate working with clay. Someone I worked with couldn't touch cotton wool.

 

But we can provide other tools to help children work with different media - lolly sticks, combs, toothbrushes can be used to make patterns in cornflour, playdough or clay; put a glove on a child to do hand painting.

 

Above all we need to respect each child's individuality and if they don't want messy hands that's just part of their character which we accept and love.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've just seen in one of the educational catalogues little gloves for children to paint with, and they have different -textured materials attached to them, such as those net things you have a shower with! So, the children can do printing without getting their hands messy :)

Nicola, let us know when the sand is out of her ears......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:D Helen, we still have sand everywhere! And it seems to be spreading and multiplying! But only from my younger daughter...... However, since our holiday, my older daughter is playing in the sandbox and occasionally putting her hands in the sand (rather than just using shovels to shift the sand).

 

What catalogue did you see those gloves in? They sound great, as long as they are used carefully - ie I don't want to give her the idea that you must wear gloves to paint, but if they are used as an activity, then she will be able to get the tactile experience without freaking over a little paint on her hands. Is there a website address to order online?

 

Nicola

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Nicola,

Sorry for the delay in replying; we've been on holiday, and now my computer is playing up, so I'm using Steve's at the moment!

The company does have a website:

www.sbs-educational.co.uk

and they're called "handpainters", 6 for £20.

 

Helen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)