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I think it’s really important to teach kids how to do things that you do. Safely. The one thing I’ve noticed during my parenting journey is that kids imitate. If you do something that could be unsafe, your best chance to ensure your child doesn’t get hurt is to teach them how to do it safely. And to explain that this is ONLY an activity for when mommy or daddy helps them. And to baby proof as much as possible. Even when we pretend play, we talk about safety. My kids use a toy oven mitt for their play kitchen, for example.
But I like to teach them all of these things. I find it interesting, they LOVE it, and I think these are useful skills. I taught my oldest, who is 4 years old, to iron, cook (to some degree), hand sew, machine sew, wash windows, and vacuum. He also knows how to properly plug in electronics to the electric outlet which I taught him using a pretend outlet. My youngest is 2 years old and he helps me make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, helps me mix food, vacuums, and washes windows. Both give the dogs food and water. Both help me with laundry and cleaning our fish tank.
I’m going to talk a little about safety precautions. Please use caution and do this carefully if you choose to teach your child too. You really need to know your child well. I knew my son could handle this at his age. Yours might not be able to. This is NOT our first activity we’ve tried- it’s something we’ve worked our way up to. He’s done ironing, hand sewing, cooking, and gardening with me in the past.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat safety instructions. Don’t make kids panic about it. Just explain calmly.
- Supervise carefully. I mean… do not take your eyes off them. I taught G during my youngest’s nap so I could focus on him.
- Do not do this unless your child is calm in the moment. My son can get really revved up and hyper. We NEVER do crafts or anything unsafe when he can’t sit still. I often will cue him to calm down by asking him to take some deep breaths before we begin, but ultimately I explain that we can’t sew (etc.) if he’s not calm because it’s not safe. If he can’t calm down, we save the activity for later.
- I baby proofed the door knob of my sewing room so they won’t go and try it on their own. If your kids have hacked the door knob covers, you can just lock the door and leave the key above the door where they can’t reach it.
- It wouldn’t hurt to use protective gear, ie. goggles. I have never had a needle snap out towards me so I didn’t make him wear goggles, but I often have him do so for other projects. And I may in the future.
- I sit right next to him. I have my hands ON him in many situations. I often make a game out of certain things to be safe- ie. when we iron I make him REACH REACH REACH to the sky with his free hand. In the meantime, I have my hand over his on the iron, showing him how to move the iron and smooth out the fabric without burning me, himself, or the fabric.
Why Teach Them to Sew
Beyond this all, sewing teaches some important developmental skills. Being able to cut and sew develops motor skills. Requiring my son to calm down before using sewing equipment helps him develop self regulation and (hopefully) good decision making. We’re working on following directions. Sitting quietly to complete a task.
Talking to him about sewing and the instruction itself is developing his language.