There’s an assumption in our society that creativity is in some way an inborn talent.
And that if kids don’t have it, they never will. This couldn’t be more wrong.
In fact, creativity is a skill, and just like other skills, some children are better than others. However, it’s also something that parents can help their children better develop and maintain throughout their lives. If you’re interested in turning your child into a blossom of creative energy and talent, read on because we have 12 simple ways you can do it.
1. Consider time as a valuable resource.
One of the most valuable things you can give your children as they expand themselves creatively is time. Creativity doesn’t fit into boxes, and can’t be scheduled or organised. Rather it’s born of a freedom that many parents fail to provide to their children. Lots of relaxed, unstructured playtime is key!
2. Allow space for creating without limits.
As well as time, kids need a safe place they can be creative without encroaching on your personal space and stress levels. Providing kids with a play room with lots of creative items like dress up clothes, Legos, painting supplies and more is a great idea. Even if you can’t provide an entire room, a corner dedicated to creative play can make a huge difference.
3. Ditch the screens.
There’s nothing worse for the creative mind than excessive screen time. While there are certainly some benefits associated with kids exploring the world on screens, having enough off-screen time is also essential. Time off the screen allows children to open up their creativity, and see the world outside the idiot box.
4. Manageable mess is wonderful.
No parent likes mess, but creativity doesn’t always happen in a way that is clean and tidy. Encouraging your children to colour outside the lines, in a literal and figurative sense, means they’re more open to creativity. Messes can be good, just as long as they’re manageable for you, so if you think you can deal with it, encourage your children to make messes!
5. Don’t fear boredom.
All parents hate those two evil little words: I’m bored, and many will do just about anything to keep their children occupied so they never have to hear them. But the truth is, boredom is a great motivator for creative thinking and actions. Without structured tasks, kids are more able to step outside routine and create without limits.
6. Give them permission to be different.
Parents want their kids to live happy lives, and not be singled out for being different, or even targeted because of it. However, the reality is that kids need parents to let go of these ideas and just allow them to be who they are. If the person they are is a little different, zany or even odd, parents need to embrace that so that their child can embrace that creative side of themselves.
7. Problem-solve with them.
It’s good to provide kids with answers sometimes, but a creative child is one who knows how to think creatively as well. One of the best ways to develop this as a skill is to problem-solve with them. If they come to you with a problem, even if you know the answer, try to bring them into the discussion. Use phrases like: ‘maybe it is this’ or ‘I don’t know what do you think?’.
8. Emphasise process over product.
When it comes to creativity, the process of creating something is often more important than what actually comes out of it. You can encourage this kind of creativity in your own children by allowing them to ‘figure it out’ by themselves. At the end of the day, although you might have an idea about how to do a project, there’s no inherently right or wrong way to get to the finish line.
9. Encourage curiosity.
Curiosity is, in so many ways, the starting engine of creativity. There are an endless amount of ways that parents can encourage curiosity in their own children, from taking them to museums to exploring the wide open spaces. Kids are naturally curious, so nurture this in them by avoiding shooting them down, and always encouraging them to ask questions and seek answers.
10. Facilitate, but don’t control.
It’s so amazing to see parents actively participating with children in their creative pursuits, but it’s important that you don’t let your own notions about creativity get in the way. The job of a parent in encouraging a child’s creativity is to facilitate the project, set it up and provide what they need, before letting them get lost in it. Avoid pushing perfectionism, and trying to control how it’s done, you’ll only stifle that creative spirit.
11. Show respect for creativity.
Parents should have a respect for creativity in whatever form it comes in, especially when children are always watching, listening and learning from your behaviours. Make a point to hang and display your child’s creations around the home, but don’t over-praise or criticise. The last thing you want is for them to be rushing the creative process just for your positive praise, or being stuck because they’re worried what you will say.
12. Encourage different kinds of creative play (make-believe, story telling, dress ups)
Versatility is the mark of a creative mind, and one of the reasons children can be so creative is because they often throw themselves enthusiastically into new projects. You can encourage this further by providing many opportunities for various creative play, such as make-believe, using basic props like cardboard boxes, family storytelling, where collaboration and creativity come together to create a tale, and dress ups, where role-playing and creativity meet.
Creativity is a wonderful aspect of childhood, and it’s impressive to see so many children coming into their teen years and adulthood with their creativity intact and ready to bloom. Parents play such a big role in this, and we hope that these tips help you in your mission to raise a creative child.