My daughter, Jane, came to the Rainbow Loom craze a little late. But like so many kids, she was excited by how easy and fun it seemed to be to crank out colorful bracelets, and I became one of the many moms who wore one last summer (dads too—I remember when I was on the Today Show, and Willie Geist was proudly wearing his). How great to have a low-tech, creative, independent (and quiet) activity. Suddenly, Jane wasn't asking to borrow my iPad as often.
She taught me how to make the single chain bracelet, but when she branched out to more complicated styles, I bowed out: Her little fingers had a much easier time maneuvering those rubber bands than mine did. I thought it would be terrific for her to know how to do something challenging that I had no idea how to do. She started watching videos online and her friends taught her how to do other new styles. She didn't want to be stuck doing ones labeled "beginner."
However, as the styles got more intricate (honeycomb! double forward rhombus!), Jane's frustration grew. The videos were genuinely hard to follow. She watched them over and over (on the iPad). When she made a mistake, she wouldn't know how to fix it, and I couldn't be of any help. Sometimes she'd totally freak out ("I hate this Rainbow Loom!!") and throw the thing in a drawer.
She kept coming back to it, and having more meltdowns. Over Christmas break, she spent more than an hour concentrating on making a new bracelet. When she proudly went to pull it off the loom, it fell apart—and so did she. ("All my work for nothing!") I tried to help her see it as a learning experience, and to remember that everything difficult takes practice. She heard me, but it's still hard for her to accept the fact that these bracelets shouldn't be easier to master than a perfect cartwheel (which she hasn't done either).
I think my current love-hate relationship with the Rainbow Loom stems from my own wish that Jane had a higher tolerance for frustration. I know we're living in an instant gratification world, but other kids are just more patient and resilient than she is. However, I'm trying to focus on the fact that she's more persistent than she used to be...and that this is a perfect opportunity for me to help her build those mental muscles. (And she really is creative with Minecraft on the iPad!).
Image of bracelets via Shutterstock