According to artist and author Hugh MacLeod, “Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten”. While this is true, many adults find that as they get older they seem to lose touch of their creative side. This is an unfortunate occurrence; creativity can help in many different areas of life, not just in professionally, but mentally, emotionally and socially. While many parents want to help their children retain their spontaneity, be more self-reliant and be open to self-expression, it can be difficult to know how to go about doing this. There are certainly a variety of ways that children can be encouraged to strengthen their creative “muscle”. If you want to help your child’s imagination and creativity to flourish, read on for five tips you can try out today.
Encourage Creative Experiments
Each child will tend to have a preferred way to express their creativity. To encourage their imagination, help your child experiment with different ways of showcasing their particular blend of self-expression. For example, most children would love to have superpowers and are filled with excitement over the idea of creating their own superhero. Encourage your child to invent a superhero persona and bring this character to life. Kids who love to doodle or colour can spend time drawing a picture of their character (the sketchbooks with personalised name labels from Stuck on You, for example, are perfect); while those who love to dress up can create a costume. Music lovers can come up with a theme song about their hero, while budding authors can write a story about their character’s exploits. See which activity ideas most excite your child and then build off them in the future.
For children to be creative, and to then grow into adults who can express themselves creatively, they need to learn to rely on themselves and their abilities. Encourage your child to be confident about their ideas and to stand up for themselves when it comes to what they think, feel, believe and decide to express creativity. For instance, if a child is told by a friend that they shouldn’t colour the ocean in yellow — even though they want to — encourage them to defend their choice of colour and stand strong against opposing views.
Remove the Pressure of Results
For children to be confident in their creative abilities, they also need to have the pressure of results removed. Emphasise the process of their work and, subsequently, their confidence and trust in their creative ability. Remove the pressure of performing by asking your child questions about their creative endeavours. For example, you may like to enquire as to whether they had fun, and what they liked best about the activity. The more a child feels free in his or her creative thinking, the more their creativity (and the development of an individual creative voice) will flow. Once the child feels the pressure to excel has been removed, they’ll be more at ease expressing themselves and using their imagination.
Encourage Spontaneity and Foster a Creative Environment
Kids are at their most creative when they have the freedom and autonomy to explore their ideas, so encourage your child to act on his or her creative thoughts as they happen. If your child doesn’t feel like drawing or writing when you have these types of activities planned, go with the flow and encourage them to pursue a different type of creative outlet. Foster a creative environment for your children at home by providing them with plenty of tools to express their imagination and by removing the external constraints (such as set instructions on completing a task or rules about colouring in lines) that may limit their quest for self-expression.
Add Creative Role Models
It also helps to introduce children to a variety of creative role models. While as a parent you are there to showcase your ideas and experience, there are many other creative viewpoints that children can be inspired by too. Think about your friends and family members — do you know anyone who loves to express their creativity through music, art, writing, theatre, craft and so on? Let your child spend time with these people and they will find themselves being taught, inspired and guided in ways you may not have expected.
Test out some of these ideas on your child and you will notice that his or her creativity and confidence improving over time. Who knows — you might even find your imagination stimulated as a result, too!