Time after time I see grown-ups teaching their children how to crochet. In most cases, the grown-up seems to get more frustrated than the child. In turn, the learning experience turns into a moment that is not as meaningful as it was supposed to be.
In one memorable experience, I encouraged a mother to back off her child during a live show. After the mother relaxed and let the child try without any influence, it only took minutes before the daughter was crocheting by herself and actually enjoying it. Mom couldn’t believe her daughter was crocheting! The problem before was that Mom was enforcing techniques that only worked for her. As humans, we have the need to be unique and find our own rhythm; what works for me isn’t always what works for you. Instead of changing others, we have to embrace our differences. We have to allow each other to find our own way.
In the example above, the problem was that Mom wanted the child to follow along exactly with what was being taught, but the child was doing things a little differently. The child wanted to hold her hook and yarn in a unique way. Mom said it was completely wrong and was getting frustrated; however, from my seat, it looked like the child was doing a good job and just needed encouragement. When I looked closer at the child’s stitches, I saw they were identical to her mom’s stitches and to my own. How can they be wrong? Yes, standards exist within the crochet field, but when we are talking about passing skills on to our children, surely there must be flexibility.
When the mom backed off and I provided the child with positive feedback, it changed the whole experience. Before, Mom wasn’t looking at the finished product and was just focusing on the process, but as soon as she started looking at the end result (the big picture) her frustration turned into pride.
I will level with you, though: Mom taught the child. I just gave her permission to do it her own way. Maybe in time the child will change her method, but for now it works and we can leave her be. Though I agreed with Mom that the technique demonstrated by her child seemed awkward, I wasn’t the one driving the hook.
When I learned to crochet at fourteen, it was also my mother who taught me. Instead of pressing me to follow the proper guidelines, Mom saw me struggling and looked for a solution to help me figure out my own way instead of fighting with me and making the learning process more difficult than it needed to be. In fact, if it wasn’t for her help and flexibility, today I wouldn’t be driving one of the largest online crochet communities on the planet.
If you are struggling to teach a young child or even a stubborn 20 year old, the secret is to allow them to be a part of the decision making process. Let them choose their yarn, but suggest the right type of project. Many new crocheters love to jump off the deep end by selecting a project that’s too difficult for their skill level. To avoid this misstep, select some skill-appropriate projects for them, i.e. projects that will lead them to success. Remember: no pattern, no matter how simple, is a waste of time. With each finished project comes another lesson, and each of those lessons act as stepping stones to greater projects in the future.